Sun. Jun 13th, 2021

NEW DELHI: There is no need to vaccinate people with documented coronavirus infection, a group of public health experts has said in a report submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 6.
The experts, including doctors from AIIMS and members from the national taskforce on Covid-19, have also warned that mass, indiscriminate and incomplete vaccination can trigger emergence of mutant strains.
The experts from Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM) and Indian Association of Epidemiologists (IAE) said vaccinating the vulnerable and those at risk, instead of mass population-wide inoculation including children, should be the aim at present.
Here are some of the recommendations and observations made by the experts in their report …
* The report said that there is no need to vaccinate people who have had documented Covid-19 infection in the past. “These people may be vaccinated after generating evidence that vaccine is beneficial after natural infection,” it said.
* It said the Centre should review its “liberalised” vaccination strategy. Currently, vaccinations are open to all above 18 years of age.
“While it makes perfect sense to vaccinate all adults, the reality is that the country is in the midst of an ongoing pandemic with limited availability of vaccines. In this scenario the focus should be to reduce deaths majority of which are among older age groups and those with co-morbidities or obesity. Vaccinating young adults, given the present constraints, will not be cost-effective,” it said.
* It said the aim of the current vaccination phase should be to cover the vulnerable and at risk, instead of immunizing the mass population, including children.
* Evidence-based flexibility in vaccine schedules may need to be considered for areas or populations experiencing surge on account for specific variants, the report said. It recommended that in areas where the surge is triggered by the Delta variant, the second dose interval of Covishiled can be reduced. It’s currently 12 weeks.
* The report said the overall objective of vaccination should be to control the disease at the population level.
* Vaccine supply to the rural primary healthcare institutions should be prioritised, it said.
* In the report, the experts suggested that experience in microplanning for polio and other immunisation activities should guide the strategy for Covid-19 vaccination. It added that micro plans should prioritise the vulnerable groups.
* It recommended risk communication and community engagement strategies for promotion of vaccination. The same can be blended with messages on Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.
* “Mass, indiscriminate, and incomplete vaccination can also trigger emergence of mutant strains. Given the rapid transmission of infection in various parts of the country, it is unlikely that mass vaccination of all adults will catch up with the pace of natural infection among our young population,” it said.
* The report said there is growing criticism of vaccine inequity between rich and developing countries. It noted that India has taken lead in the ‘vaccine diplomacy’ by sending vaccines to many countries and some more are still awaiting approval.
“This goodwill gesture has won praise from many world leaders and must be continued in national interest,” it said.

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