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Vaccination rate is low in several parts of State: Health Secretary – Mrit News

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‘Coverage in the over 18 age group is lacking in several districts, including Chennai’

‘Coverage in the over 18 age group is lacking in several districts, including Chennai’

Some districts, including Chennai and its neighbouring districts, the western region and parts of southern regions in Tamil Nadu, have low vaccine coverage across age groups. This is a cause for concern as unvaccinated persons are susceptible to COVID-19 infection and could spread it in the community, said Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan here on Friday.

In districts such as Chennai, Chengalpattu, Ranipet, Tirupattur, Tiruppur, Madurai, Mayiladuthurai and Theni, vaccination coverage was low among the over 18 age group.

After inspecting a vaccine depot, Mr. Radhakrishnan said a jump in cases had been noticed in the State and everyone who had been diagnosed had the Omicron variant. Whole genomic sequencing of the samples had shown that two new sub-variants, BA4 and BA5, were in circulation in the State, he said. “We have noticed BA4 in seven samples and BA5 in 11 samples. The numbers are rising since the case was identified in Navalur,” he said.

As on date, 11.18 crore doses of the vaccine has been administered, with 93.87% persons over the age of 18 receiving the first dose. Around 83.06% people have received the second dose. However, the second dose coverage among those aged over 18 years is low in districts such as Ranipet, Tirupattur, Madurai, Namakkal and Theni, Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

Similarly, in the 15-18 age group, the coverage is low in Tirupattur, Chennai, Ranipet, Villupuram and Tiruppur. In the 12-14 group, it is low in Ranipet, Chennai, Chengalpattu, Mayiladuthurai and Tiruvallur, he said.

As on date, as many as 43 lakh persons had not taken the first dose of the vaccine, and 1.21 crore people have missed their second dose, Mr. Radhakrishnan added.

“These people are ripe (for infection), and the new sub-variant could spread through them. That is why we request people to get vaccinated,” he explained ahead of the mega camp to be held on Sunday. One lakh camps will function from 7 a.m. on that day, and two lakh people will be deployed.

Rise in positivity

“In India, we look at the percentage of people testing positive for the infection. It has risen to 2.26% from less than 0.6% in the past several weeks. In Tamil Nadu, it was 0.3%. Now, in Chennai, it has risen to 4.2% (six in 1,000 persons are infected). In Chennai, Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Coimbatore, three to four persons in 100 are getting infected,” Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

The main complaint among the infected is throat pain and mild fever. The virus was first found among students in hostels but is now spreading in [family and private] functions as well, he added.

Only less than 10% of people wore masks, he pointed out. “If you are infected then isolate yourself and get tested. Avoid travelling during the infection period, which lasts for a week. Though we have strengthened the healthcare system and have sufficient beds, ventilators, oxygen and medicines required to treat people, it is better to prevent the infection,” the Health Secretary said.

There is concern about waning immunity even among the vaccinated. Since people are moving around without restrictions, the infected could infect elders or persons with comorbidities, and this could result in a rise in infections and hospitalisations as well, he said.

“We request you to get vaccinated as it is for your protection and for the protection of society. If from March 17 till date, there has been no death then it is due to the public’s cooperation,” Mr. Radhakrishnan added.

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