Health experts said that the most important problem is commuting as elderly people are not able to actually go to the vaccination centers themselves and they also fear that they will get infected with covid if they go to crowded places .
The pace of vaccination of the population above 60 years to protect against COVID-19 has slowed down in the last few weeks after reaching a high level initially. Health experts have attributed this to the problem of commuting to the vaccination centre, misinformation about the vaccine and unfounded apprehensions.
According to the data of the Ministry of Health, so far 2.29 crore elderly people have been completely vaccinated, while 6.71 crore people have received only one dose of COVID-19 vaccine so far. The population over 60 years in India was estimated to be 143 million in 2021, which would mean that only 16 percent of them have been fully vaccinated so far.
Vaccination for people above 60 years and above 45 years of age with serious diseases started from March 1 at both government and private centres. According to the data, between March 13 and April 2, an average of about 80.77 lakh vaccine doses were administered per week to a population over 60, but between June 5 and June 25, the weekly figure dropped to around 32 lakh.
Myths and rumors a major obstacle to vaccination coverage
Health experts expressed concern over the slow pace of vaccination of people over 60. Dr Sujit Ranjan, Executive Director, The Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security (CFNS), said that myths, misconceptions and rumors about COVID-19 vaccines are the biggest barriers to vaccination coverage. He said, “Some people think that they will never get infected with COVID-19. Irrational distrust of scientifically accepted vaccines is also a factor. Whereas vaccine hesitation has always been an issue in our country.
Hospitals have expressed concern over the slow pace of immunization of people over the age of 60, most of whom suffer from serious diseases. Dr. Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals said that vaccine hesitancy among the elderly population is a very real issue. Bajaj said that commuting to the vaccination center is also a big issue for the above 60 age group.
He said, “The most important problem is commuting as they are not able to actually go to the vaccination centers themselves and they also fear that they will get infected with COVID if they go to crowded places. We need to ensure that we educate them about the various risk factors and try to provide vaccination at their doorstep.
People are hesitant about the vaccine
Dr. Piyush Goyal, Senior Consultant- Pulmonary and Critical Care, Columbia Asia Hospital, Palam Vihar, Gurugram said that vaccine hesitancy is one of the biggest barriers to mass vaccine access. “As there has been a recent decline in the rate of vaccination among people over the age of 60, there are fears that vaccine hesitation may hinder coverage of this population group,” he said.
Dr. H.K., an anesthesiologist at Indian Spinal Injury Center, Vasant Kunj. Mahajan said that two main things should be focused on about the vaccine – Vaccines provide protection against COVID-19 and Vaccines are safe. Mahajan said that vaccine hesitancy among people over 60 years of age in India can also be due to misinformation, myths and doubts. To deal with this, Mahajan suggested that frontline health workers and hospitals should issue statements in favor of vaccination.
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