Civic officials say due to the festival season, even those scheduled to take the second shot have kept away.
Second vaccine hesitancy is emerging as a trend across the country—nearly 16 crore doses were available with states and UTs on Saturday —while 7 crore due for their second shot were still to take it.
Only 2.42 crore doses were administered in the country during the Diwali week ending November 5, around 50% of the over 4 crore doses given during October 23-29.
Meanwhile, total inoculations have crossed 108 crore doses.
‘Second shot conversion of Covid vaccine is better in urban areas’
Experts aren’t sure if the fall in vaccination is due to the festival season alone or also the result of poor awareness in non-metro areas. “The polio campaign was very specific about two drops and polio Sundays, but there is no direct message that Covid vaccination entails two shots. We only hear a general message about the availability of Covid vaccination,” Sachin Pandey, a Gandhinagar professor who maintains vaccination data on his website https://covidtikaherokuapp.com, said.
Pandey added that the second dose conversion (the ratio between the number of fully vaccinated people and the number of people vaccinated with the first dose 84 days back) is poor in 21 states and Union territories.
While the all-India ratio is 0.826, the corresponding figure for Maharashtra stands at 0.883.
However, Pandey said a closer look at district-wise data showed that second shot conversion is better in urban centres. In Mumbai and Delhi, for instance, the ratio is 0.937and 0.927 respectively. “However, in Noida, which includes some rural pockets as well, the conversion is 0.694,” he said.
He added,”Seeing the city-wise data and comparing it to the whole state, it seems the second dose conversion is less in rural areas. These areas would do better with awareness on the need to take the second dose.”
However, in Mumbai, where the first dose vaccination is close to 99% and the full two-dose vaccination at 61%, officials from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation are struggling to boost the latter.
“We are calling up people, we are surveying housing colonies and slums to find out people who have delayed their second dose, and so we have made mobile centres available,” said additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani.
Kakani is hopeful that vaccination will pick up pace after the Diwali festival is over. The BMC had stopped vaccination for four days due to poor turnout during Diwali; vaccination in public centres will resume on Monday.