Is the third time the charm?

Is the third time the charm?

India, as a nation filled with densely populated cities and crudely educated masses, went through heaps of sorrow and anxiety during the first two waves of this deadly pandemic. Both livesBoth, lives and livelihoods were lost in significant numbers. Both the waves saw the world at large suffer in gigantic proportions with even the most sophisticated and advanced healthcare systems succumbing to the high rates of hospitalisation. During such times of despair, the Indian government launched the much-awaited vaccination programme. The government of India’s commitment to the vaccination programme has been unwavering and proactive from the beginning, from strengthening rResearch and dDevelopment capacity, to encouraging and enabling manufacturing, toand vaccinating each and every adult Indian safely, as fast as possible.

COVID vaccination in the country commenced with the vaccination of healthcare workers. The programme was then expanded to include vaccination of front line workers, citizens over the age of 60, citizens over the age of 45, citizens over 18 years of age and recently 15-18 year olds. Albeit a few hiccups, the vaccination programme has been hugely successful in India. Despite the enormous vaccine hesitancy that prevailed across the country, mainly fuelled by petty politics and lack of awareness, both state and central governments successfully ensured that a larger number of eligible citizens were vaccinated. As a consequence of reliance on scientific and epidemiological evidence and pro-active implementation, India’s COVID-19 vaccination programme has achieved a historical milestone of administering more than 141 crore doses so far. 90% of the adult population of the country has been covered with at least one dose and 62% of the adult population has been covered with both doses. This is remarkable considering the vast expanse of geography and cultural diversity that exists in India.

This remarkable feat has equipped India with enough ammunition, or should I say immunisation, to successfully battle the third wave that is surging across the country. The Omicron variant, which is said to be less deadly with mild symptoms, has been spreading quite rapidly across the country. The number of cases have risen exponentially across the country. Keeping the third wave in mind, the Central Government has opened the vaccination programme to children between 15-18 years of age. As a matter of abundant precaution, for those Health Care Workers (HCWs) & Front Line Workers (FLWs) who have received two doses, another dose of COVID-19 vaccine would be provided from 10 January 2022. All persons aged 60 years and above with comorbidities who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, will on dDoctor’s advice be provided with a precaution dose from 10 January 2022. The Government has successfully vaccinated more than two crore teens between 15-18 years of age. While timely measures are being taken to save lives, the government must also keep in mind the livelihood of the people. Unscientific harsh lockdowns for a prolonged period will once again bog down the BPL families across the country. To prevent this, the burden lies not only with the Government but also the citizens of this country. It is imperative that any recreational trip or event planned for the next 30-45 days stands canceled for the benefit of the larger public. Wearing masks, rRegular sanitization and social distancing are mandatory norms at all social gatherings. Responsible cohesive action from both the citizens and Government will help us win this battle against this deadly virus with minimal casualties. Who knows, maybe the third time’s the lucky charm?

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Chinmaya Udghosh