The threat of a third wave of Covid-19 and the need to intensify vaccination

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New Delhi . Till June 28, 32,36,63,297 doses of the vaccine were given in India. This means that we have overtaken the US in terms of total vaccine doses. Interestingly, vaccination in India started on January 16 this year, while in the US, vaccination is going on since December 14 last year. This is no small feat, given the recent devastating second wave and its impact on public health infrastructure. However, the rate of vaccination is still low compared to the total eligible population.
Health experts have warned of a third wave in India. Some people estimate that it can come in India within 6 to 8 weeks from now, while some say that it will come in September-October. The timing and severity of the third wave will depend on the level of mutation and transmission of the virus, human behavior and vaccination. Irrespective of the timing, there is a need to be prepared for a third wave and possibly something else, including the government, citizens, social organisations, organizations and industry.

Vaccination is the only weapon

We will need to face the pandemic in the coming times around the world and vaccination is the only weapon we have. The infection and transmission of the Covid-19 vaccine varies by location and type of virus, but it is effective in saving lives. Evidence suggests that people who have been vaccinated do not need to be admitted to the hospital, even those who have received only one dose of the vaccine. Partial protection is always better than no protection. In many respects it is the difference between life and death.

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The slow pace of vaccination and the new variant of Delta is a matter of concern
The slow pace of vaccination for India and the new variant of Delta is a matter of concern. We also have to keep in mind that till now the vaccination of people from 0 to 18 years has not started. It is not possible to reach herd immunity without accelerating the pace of vaccination. Speeding up is important, especially for those who cannot afford vaccinations in private institutions.

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Access to free vaccinations provided by the government is still challenging for those living in remote villages and urban slum areas. Less use of technology, hesitation towards vaccination, lack of awareness etc. are many such challenges which need to be tackled.

Need to enhance public health infrastructure
While work is underway to determine the effectiveness of vaccination, we need to ramp up our public health infrastructure to run fast and effective vaccination campaigns, keeping in mind the future waves. Such infrastructure and process can provide fast and effective coverage for future booster doses, which may be needed at different time intervals.
An important aspect in this fight is to increase the capacity of frontline health workers, who work directly in the community. Anganwadi workers, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANM) have been the heroes of the fight against COVID-19. He ensured mass vaccination by educating, assuring and organizing people at the grassroots level for vaccination. It is very important that their capacity is increased and they are equipped with the necessary knowledge to unite or organize people.

Get Vaccinated and Inspire Others
Vaccination is the only way to return to normalcy. And no one is safe until everyone is vaccinated. It is high time that we all get vaccinated and inspire everyone around us to do the same.

Anil Parmar, Vice President,
Community Investment, United Way Mumbai

(Note – these are the personal views of the author.)

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