The Telangana government has requested the Central government to allow COVID-19 vaccination to those who have high rate of exposure to the public. The State’s Director of Public Health Dr G Srinivasa Rao cited teachers, drivers of buses and cabs, those working in banks, employees at commercial establishments as examples of those who have high exposure to people. Apart from them, street vendors, shopkeepers, and others too get exposed to more people.
The senior official said that they are expecting a response to the request in a few days. For the past few months, managements of private companies have been approaching Health department officials with requests to vaccinate all their employees regardless of age group. It was published in these columns that the managements approached the officials with list of their employees.
Currently, apart from Health Care Workers (HCWs), Frontline Workers (FLWs), the vaccine is offered to people who are 60 years or above and those belonging to 45-59 years with co-morbidities. From April 1, the jabs would also be given to people above 45 years regardless of co-morbidities. When asked if they have requested people below 45 years with co-morbidities too to be vaccinated, Dr Srinivasa replied in the affirmative.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday that the Centre is planning to widen the umbrella of the COVID-19 vaccine beneficiaries by including other sections of the population.
Two ways out
Though it has been more than three months since vaccination drive was launched, the response from people is still low. Fear of developing side effects or severe adverse effects is keeping people away from taking the jab. There are 3,31,097 HCWs and 2,57,239 FLWs. It is estimated that there are over 50 lakh people who are 60 years or above, and 45-59 years with co-morbidities.
Though over 55.8 lakh people are eligible to take the vaccine, a little over 8.91 lakh took the first dose of the vaccine from January 16 to March 26. That includes 3,70,290 people who are 60 years or above, 1,87,322 who are 45-59 years with co-morbidities.
Dr Srinivasa said that the two ways to get out of the pandemic is by maintaining precautions and by vaccinating against coronavirus.