Vaccination is proving to be a promising defense against this pandemic. However, vaccinating more than 12 crore, the population of Bihar, in a timely manner is a monumental task. The first wave of pandemic in India largely affected the elderly. Hence when vaccines became available, older people were prioritized. However, during the second wave the brunt of infection has shifted to lower age groups, the adult population. This shift has prompted a change in strategy by the state of Bihar since 9th May, 2021- the decision to vaccinate all aged older than 18 years against COVID-19.
The percentage of adults in comparison to overall vaccine beneficiaries is also increasing steadily. Of recent, 4 out of 5 vaccinated persons are now aged between 18-44 years. Altogether thus far in the state, more than 92 lakhs people have been vaccinated; this constitutes approximately around 7% of the state’s population. Of these, more than 7 lakh are aged between 18 to 44 years and the remaining are above 44 years. In order to accelerate vaccination rates further, several new vaccination centers are being set up by the state.
NIPI is supporting the state in setting up of these additional vaccination centers in-and-around Patna city to accelerate vaccination among eligible population. NIPI’s support more specifically consists of: identification of suitable locations which can be operationalized as vaccination centers, assigning of vaccinators as well as supporting them and the state in registration of eligible beneficiaries.
As efforts are on to increase access to COVID-19 vaccination, equally important is adherence to applicable protocols and guidelines to maintain quality of vaccination. The state NIPI team is playing an instrumental role in this regard. Other than setting up of centers, routine monitoring visits by the state NIPI team to provide oversight in the vaccination process is an important step in ensuring compliance to all applicable protocols. Periodic visits are being undertaken by the NIPI state team members to select vaccination centers and these visits are combined with the purpose to also ensure adequate orientation of vaccinators.
Bihar government’s strategy to provide vaccines without cost to all its citizens is generating interest among people from all strata. All citizens making an informed decision and opting for vaccination are benefitting from the policy decision of free vaccines across the vaccination centers in the state. The combined strategy of free vaccination for all and prioritizing the adult population will help strengthen the fight against COVID 19 pandemic.