The first dose COVID-19 vaccination coverage of those aged 15 and up is currently 95.5 percent, while the second dose coverage is 80.6 percent, indicating that the vaccination pace has slowed because the majority of the target beneficiaries have already been vaccinated, the Centre told Parliament on Tuesday. Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said in a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha about whether hospitals across the country have stocks of Covid vaccines that are about to expire in the near future, that the Centre closely monitors vaccine stocks and consumption in the states and union territories to ensure optimal use and minimal wastage.
She said that vaccine supplies to the states are based on demand, and that sufficient vaccine doses are made available to the states to inoculate the remaining eligible beneficiaries with the first, second, and precaution doses.
“The COVID-19 vaccine stock, which has not been utilised and nearing expiry, are usually taken up for redistribution by respective state government for their timely utilisation. States and UTs have also been advised to review programme coverage and vaccine wastage on a daily basis and redistribute the vaccine stock, if required, for their optimal utilisation even from private hospitals,” Pawar said.
On whether lowering the 60-year-old cut-off for receiving booster doses is on the government’s plan, she noted that on March 16, the Centre expanded the precaution dose to all beneficiaries aged 60 and more, regardless of whether they had comorbidities or not. In response to a question about whether there has been a slowdown in vaccination across the country as the infection rate and number of cases have decreased, the minister stated that first-dose coverage of those aged 15 and above is 95.5 percent, and second-dose coverage is 80.6 percent, and “hence, the pace of vaccination has slowed down relatively as most of the target beneficiaries are already covered.”