The central government rolled out precaution dose on January 10 for healthcare workers, frontline workers and citizens above 60 years with co-morbidities, and later included the population aged 18-59. To increase the coverage, the Union health ministry in July reduced the gap between second and booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from nine to six months and started providing free precaution dose to all eligible beneficiaries in the age group of 18 and above.
Following an advisory from the central government, the health department reviewed the vaccination status and preparedness to counter any possible surge in cases and stressed on increasing the coverage of vaccination, especially precaution doses. Instructions have been issued to civil surgeons for making efforts to encourage people to take the precaution dose. Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann also urged people to take the third dose at the earliest.
Punjab has so far managed to provide the first dose to 98% of the eligible population, while 86% have been fully vaccinated in the age group of 18 years and above. Only 79% of the eligible beneficiaries in the age group of 15 to 18 have received the first shot and 62% have been jabbed twice. In the 12-14 years age group, only 79% have received the first dose and only 53% are fully immunised.Dr Paramjit Mann, president, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Punjab, urged the state government, medical fraternity and general public to brace up for thwarting the impending Covid-19 outbreak. “The health department should ramp up the vaccination coverage, especially the third dose, as vaccines have proved to be an effective tool in countering the virus,” said Dr Maan. He, however, said there is no need to panic as the medical professionals, civil administration and police have showcased in past that they are capable of handling any situation.