India has crossed the landmark of vaccinating 100 crore individuals, becoming the second country after China to reach the milestone. The feat was achieved in over 10 months of the starting of India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive on January 16. At the time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it “a decisive turning point” in India’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the road to vaccinate 100 crore Indians wasn’t without roadblocks, which makes this achievement all the more remarkable.
According to Government sources, vaccine doses were administered at 4,30,000 vaccination sites over a period of nine months. Going by that data, roughly over 20,00,000 workers were involved during this crucial period.
India’s Vaccination Programme
India started its Covid-19 vaccination drive in January. Frontline workers were the first to be inoculated, followed by 50+ and under-50 citizens with comorbidities. Vaccination for those above 45 years started from April and for those above 18 years from May.
India had a slow start when vaccinations were opened for some 96 Crore eligible people.
Challenges In The Process
Logistical problems and supply bottlenecks, vaccine hesitancy, digital divide, the rural-urban divide, and a gender gap during this period made the rollout harder. The storage of vaccines and providing for the cold-chain network to remote areas where healthcare facilities are not at par was a challenge in itself.
Add to the fact that India got into the midst of the worst second wave of the pandemic as soon as the vaccines became available to the general public, crippling the same health care system that was to be used for vaccine administration.
The number of doses actually administered each day since January was not consistent, and varied widely too. Having said that,the most successful stories in our war against COVID-19 have been the rigorous efforts to vaccinate amid the challenges.
Steps Taken To Boost Vaccination
Reportedly, The steps taken to ensure that the covid-19 vaccine reaches everyone included:
- Universal availability of vaccines
- Vaccines at subsidised rates
- Fighting vaccine hesitancy
- Fixing inequitable distribution
- Pushing rural vaccination drive
These steps have taken place in quick succession and we have on many days vaccinated more than 1 crore people a day and averaged about 25 crore vaccinations in September.
We have reached the landmark figure of administering 100 crore or 1 billion vaccine doses, which is more than the collective population of the UK, US, Brazil and Russia.
In states like Sikkim, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Chandigarh, Lakshadeep, 100 per cent of the adult population has got at least one dose and also has the highest proportion of fully vaccinated people.
On the other hand, some of the larger states with much larger populations like Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Uttarakhand also have managed to partially vaccinate 90 per cent of the population.
One of the main concerns during the vaccination programme was the possible inequitable distribution of vaccine, especially to the rural areas, and overcoming the urban-rural divide.
It is a pleasant news that rural areas too, in general, are not lagging behind in vaccination. In fact, data show that many districts, on an average, have provided over 80 per cent of their population with at least one vaccine dose; the coverage of the second dose is about 30 per cent.
As of now, 100 crore vaccine doses have been administered to about 70 crore people. More than 28 crore people are fully vaccinated to date. These are very important factors, which will mitigate the effects of the third wave if and when it hits us.