Tamil Nadu is gearing up for its sixth COVID-19 vaccine mega camp. However, instead of the customary Sunday camps as in the case of the previous five, the sixth camp will be held on Saturday, October 23. The state health department said that it is preparing to make the October 23 camp the biggest vaccination camp so far, spread across 50,000 centres. Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian told IANS, “Many people are of the belief that they will not be able to eat or drink what they like and to encourage this group, we are conducting the vaccination camp on Saturday.”
Subramanian appealed to the people to take the vaccine as the state has adequate doses. He added that with the vaccines available in sufficient numbers, people must take the jab at the earliest. At least one in four people across the state have taken both doses of the vaccine, the minister added. The state has already vaccinated more than 5.1 crore people with at least one dose of the vaccine but the vaccination process has not been evenly done.
The Health Department in a statement said only 45% of those above 60 years have taken a single dose of the vaccine and the department is conducting awareness programmes among this section of the population to inoculate themselves as early as possible. People above 60 years are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and hence the low percentage of inoculation in this category is a matter of worry.
Suchitra V Menon, virologist at a private hospital in Chennai who is closely monitoring the vaccination process in the state, told IANS, “The vaccination drive should focus more on those above 60 years as they are the most vulnerable to hospitalisation and contracting the infection. There has to be an attempt to accelerate vaccination among this age group.”
According to a statement of the Health Department, 61% in the 18-44 age group and 74% people in the 45-59 age group have taken at least one dose of the vaccine but the figure for those above 60 years is only 45%, which is a cause of concern for the department. Geographically, the vaccination is not uniform with Chennai, Kancheepuram, Nilgiris and Coimbatore vaccinating more people while there are districts where the vaccination is less than 20%.