With a total population close to 15 lakh, the coastal state of Goa has only managed to fully vaccinate 94,521, or 6.5 percent, of its citizens with both COVID doses since inoculations began in January.
The majority of the state’s population, who is within the 18-44-year category, is still waiting for the jab, as the government is yet to procure enough vaccine stock from Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech.
According to Harvard University India COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, as of Thursday, 20 May, a total of 4,59,560 citizens have been inoculated in the state. Out of this, only 3,65,039 Goans have received the first dose, and 94,521 people have got the second dose.
Of the 4.59 lakh inoculations, about 4.56 lakh were administered the AstraZeneca/ Covishield vaccine and around 3,000 inoculated with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
In terms of age demographics, 38 percent of the inoculated population is in the 60+ age group, 44 percent in the 45-60 age group, 11 percent of the population in the 30-45 age group, and about 7 percent in the 18-30 age group.
Record Number of Infections and Vaccine Hesitancy
Even as the state is grappling with the second wave, vaccination drives in Goa is yet to pick up pace, starting with healthcare workers.
Dr Lenny Da Costa, a resident geriatrics and functional medicine expert in Goa, said that vaccine hesitancy existed even before the second wave began.
The numbers speak for themselves when we talk about vaccine hesitancy, even among healthcare workers. Although about 18,000 healthcare workers had registered on the portal, only 10,405 were vaccinated till mid-February.
“When even doctors and health staff who have more knowledge about the vaccine are reluctant to get the jab, I’m not at all surprised that others are hesitant to come forward. Vaccination among HCWs itself is about 52 percent so far,” reported The Times of India, quoting a healthcare worker in a report dated 17 February.
“Before, the vaccine hesitancy could have been a big problem before the second wave hit, it is still a big problem. The hesitancy stems from the number of people who have fell ill after taking the vaccine,” said Dr Costa.
In a press conference on 21 April, the Health Ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) stated that only two to four people in every 10,000 vaccinated against COVID-19 are reinfected with the virus.
However, according to the Harvard Universities Geographic Insights, there have been at least 559 cases of adverse events recorded after immunisation.
“There are no figures and nobody is wanting to conduct an independent study on this. There are lot of people who have succumbed to the virus post their second jab, many of them within the first week of their first jab.”Dr Lenny Da Costa, Geriatrics and Functional Medicine Expert in Goa.
‘Goa Not on Centre’s Priority List’
“Goa doesn’t seem to be a priority of the national government. We have not been receiving enough vaccines.”Dr Lenny Da Costa, Geriatrics and Functional Medicine Expert in Goa
Vaccinations for the 18-44 age group was started by the Centre on 1 May. However, the onus of procuring vaccines directly from manufacturers was on state governments and private hospitals.
With multiple states reporting vaccine shortages, it was only on 15 May when the Goa government received 32,000 vaccines for the 18-44 age group – even though the government had placed an order for 5 lakh Covishield doses. However, when the vaccination slots opened at 12 pm – as notified by the government – they were filled within minutes.
“For the 18-45-year-olds, who are really interested on getting vaccinated, (they) are not able to get the jabs. The state government is claiming that they will have 30,000 more vaccines tomorrow (20 May) but not even 10-15,000 inoculations were done as of yesterday,” said Dr Costa.