Special vaccination drive begins

A fortnight-long special vaccination drive, with a view to completing two doses in as many people as possible, began on Wednesday in the wake of the emergence of the new and more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron.

All local bodies have been asked to intensify the vaccination drive, by tracing the unvaccinated or those who are due/overdue for the second dose. Those who have already had COVID-19 infection need get vaccinated only after three months. But those who are due for the second dose should ensure that it is not delayed beyond the stipulated interval, which is 84 days for Covishield and 28 days for Covaxin.

Health workers, along with local body representatives, have been asked to get the line list of those who are due for the second dose, to visit them personally at their homes and persuade them to get vaccinated

Health Minister Veena George said here on Thursday that news about the new virus variant seemed to have triggered a rush for vaccination. More people have taken the vaccine in the four days from Saturday – 6.25 lakh – than in the four days preceding last Saturday, when 4.4 lakh had taken the vaccine.

Till date, 96.3% of the eligible population above 18 years (2,57,04,744 persons) have received the first dose, while 65.5% (1,74,89,582 persons) have been fully vaccinated. The State has at present, 8 lakh doses in stock.

Ms. George said those who are unable to take vaccine because of any medical condition or serious allergies should take caution to ensure that they do not get infected.

Precautions

Ms. George said the State was bracing itself to deal with a possible new situation involving Omicron and that all necessary precautionary measures had been strengthened. Apart from high transmissibility, immune evasiveness or the immune escape property predicted for Omicron is a cause for concern.

The Health department has already anticipated that there could be a surge in cases and hospitalisations and steps were being taken to meet such exigencies. It would be ensured that travellers from abroad followed the quarantine norms and protocols strictly. The cooperation of other departments would be sought to enforce quarantine norms.

She said the exact numbers of those who had come from abroad, from the time Omicron was reported, was being collected.

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