Ahmedabad appears to be uninterested in the third/ booster dose either by paying from it or even from government vaccination sites. The acceptance of the booster in Ahmedabad city, even in light of newer variants of concern seen in other countries, and the government disbursing them for free at health centres, is lacklustre at best. Only 15 % in the 18-59 age group have taken the precautionary dose against the 33% in the same bracket across Gujarat.
Data from CoWin shows that against the total 46.83 lakh eligible population in Ahmedabad city, only 10.55 lakh or 22.54% have taken the booster shot.
Meanwhile, across Gujarat, of the total 4.90 crore eligible people, 1.94 crore have taken the third dose as of January 5, accounting for just 39.57%.
According to Dr Bhavin Solanki, Medical Officer of Health (MoH) for AMC said: “While vaccine intake has remained low till now, we expect more people to come and take the third dose once we have enough Covishield in stock, because the state is providing it at no cost.”
Health department officials confirmed that since there is no policy update about charges, the state has been providing them for free. SIgnificantly, Gujarat’s vaccine stocks went down to almost 20,000 by December and it placed an order with the Centre for 2 lakh Covaxin doses and 10 lakh of Covishield. While Covaxin stocks were resupplied last week, Covishield is likely to reach government vaccination centres on Jan 9.
The government has begun administering free-of-cost booster shots to vulnerable populations, Healthcare Workers (HCWs), Frontline Workers (FLWs) and those above 60 years began. Hence, third dose coverage is more in this population. However, here too, the coverage in Ahmedabad city is lower than in the state. Of the 8.79 lakh eligible people, only 4.82 lakh in the city have received the third dose, at just 54.9%. On the other hand, of the 87.27 lakh people across Gujarat, 59.41 lakh or 68.1% have taken the third dose.
On scientific evidence for the need for a booster dose, infectious diseases expert Dr Atul Patel, who recently advised the Gujarat government on the issue, shared: “The booster dose needs to be taken by all and especially those who have co-morbidities. The third dose will boost immunity even in healthy young people because even 30-year-old people get bilateral pneumonia due to Covid. Over time, the efficacy of vaccines get less and a booster shot is need to revive the immunity needed within.”