India’s national COVID vaccination program is built on scientific and epidemiological evidence, WHO guidelines and global best practices. It is anchored in systematic end-to-end planning and is implemented through effective and efficient participation of States/UTs and the people at large. Government of India’s commitment to the vaccination program has been unwavering and proactive from the beginning. It is consistently supporting the States to increase and expand their vaccination coverage along with the pace of vaccination. Under the new phase of universalisation of the countrywide COVIUD19 vaccination drive, the Union Government is providing 75% of COVID vaccines to the states free of cost for vaccination of all adult population.
There have been some media reports alleging slow pace of COVID-19 vaccination drive in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, further stating that it will take three years for both the states to fully vaccinate its population.
It is clarified that the news report is misleading as it takes in \to account the average daily vaccination rate from the beginning of the COVID vaccination drive in order to show a low rate of vaccination and then further uses this number to claim that the states will take many years to complete the vaccination drive for its citizens.
Furthermore, using an average when the availability of vaccines was extremely low across the world (including India) and then extrapolating the low rate by comparing it with present data when the vaccine supply is expected to be very high, may also lead to vaccine hesitancy which is a global issue during vaccination.
In contrast to this, the vaccine availability and vaccination rate have been consistently improving across the country. It must also be kept in mind that Uttar Pradesh is India’s largest state in terms of population. As per the 2011 census, the state has over 19.95 crore population. UP’s population is higher than many counties including Brazil, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, to name a few.
Despite large cohort for vaccination and huge size of the state with sizable rural population, the state is committed to providing free vaccination to all its eligible citizen as soon as possible. The state has proactively worked toward this endeavour to which the rising monthly vaccination coverage of the state is testimony. The state has been continuously improving its monthly vaccine coverage from mere 4.63 lakh in January to over 1.54 crore in the month of July. UP also continues to be among the leading states in terms of vaccination coverage.
The trend clearly shows the improvement in the state’s vaccination coverage which is happening at a very high pace every month. Further, Uttar Pradesh Government has also taken many innovative steps to reach out to maximum number of its citizens and help them take part in world’s largest vaccination drive.
Adding to its high vaccination coverage, the state’s ‘cluster approach’ for vaccination and creating special ‘pink booths’ to encourage women of the state to take a shot of the Covid-19 vaccinehas shown positive results. Uttar Pradesh has also proactively organized vaccination sessions at workplaces and covered vulnerable population group like street hawkers, vegetable vendors, transporters and media persons among others. All these steps have contributed to UP’s high vaccination coverage.
Moreover, it must be stated that the vaccine is a biological product and the process of manufacturing takes time. Once produced, the vaccines need to be tested for quality and safety. Thus, the manufacturing process to production of vaccine is a long-drawn process and does not translate into immediate supply.