With the state getting an allocation of only 3.30 lakh vaccines for the 18-plus category from the Serum Institute of India (SII) for the month of May, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday ordered 70 percent of the doses to be reserved for individuals with co-morbidities, and the remaining 30 percent to high-risk category of employees and workers in this age group.
Capt Amarinder, chairing a high-level virtual review meeting, announced that within these groups, district-wise allocation has also been prioritized based on population index, mortality, and density.
Given the severe supply constraints, it has been decided to limit the vaccination for 18-44 age group in this phase to major urban centres, he said, expressing concern over the fact that even for the 45-plus age group, the State was in short supply, as a result of which only a few vaccine centres were currently functioning.
The state expects two lakh doses to arrive on Tuesday for vaccination of 45-plus category. Of the 33,46,500 Covishield doses received so far, a total of 32,91,450 have already been utilized.
In the 18-44 age group, for the month of May, the maximum allocation of 50 percent has been prioritized for Group A of the most-affected districts of SAS Nagar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Bathinda, and Patiala.
Another 30 percent has been reserved for the Group B districts of Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, SBS Nagar, Faridkot, Kapurthala and Gurdaspur, while 20 percent will be utilized in the other districts that have the least cases at present.
Allocation has been made proportionate to the population of major urban areas of Zones A and B, while for Zone C, an equal distribution of doses across has been allocated for each district.
The decisions have been taken in accordance with the vaccine strategy recommended by the state’s Vaccine Expert Committee for May, an official spokesperson said after the meeting.
The committee, comprising Dr Gagandeep Kang, Dr Jacob John and Dr Rajesh Kumar, recommended that when further doses are available or as the epidemiologic situation changes, the prioritization framework may be modified.
Accepting the recommendations of the committee, the Chief Minister approved expansion of the list of co-morbidities to include obesity (BMI>30), disabilities (like spinal cord injury) and multiple co-morbidities determined to increase risk by a treating physician, in addition to those specified by the Central Government.
He pointed out that since individuals with co-morbidities are at highest risk of severe disease and deaths, it was imperative to vaccinate them on priority.
For the remaining 30 percent, the Chief Minister said that while the strategic roadmap contains a list of professions at risk, given the limitation of vaccine availability, for the month of May, the top three categories have been chosen, including government employees, construction workers, and teachers and other staff at government and private educational establishments, all of whom have a greater interactions with other individuals and are highest risk of infection and transmission.
Notably, Punjab Government has placed an immediate order of 30 lakh doses with Serum Institute of India Limited for 18-44 category on April 26, but has been informed that the allocation will be 3.30 lakh doses only for the 18–44-year age group for the month of May 2021.
To boost supplies, the Vaccine Expert Committee has recommended that increased doses be sought in partnership with private sector and other sources, for allocation of available doses in May.
It has also suggested that the State Government initiate a consultation with national and international vaccine experts to recommend the dosing strategy for Covishield and possibly other vaccines, given the international experience with expanding population coverage and its impact.
Further, the Committee has recommended development of a plan for evaluation of vaccine effectiveness for prioritized groups, those with co-morbidities, and the general populations. This will be valuable in designing further control efforts and may be done in conjunction with infectious disease modeling for the state, the Committee stressed.
Punjab set to get 3.30 lakh vaccines for 18+ category for May
Govt prioritizes vaccination within groups, besides district-wise allocation based on population index, mortality, and density
·70% doses to be reserved for individuals with co-morbidities
· Remaining 30% to high-risk category of employees and workers in the 18-44 age group
·Maximum allocation of 50% made for Group A of most-affected districts of SAS Nagar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Bathinda, and Patiala
·Another 30% reserved for Group B districts of Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, SBS Nagar, Faridkot, Kapurthala and Gurdaspur
·Remaining 20% to be utilized in other districts with least cases presently
·Govt to limit vaccination for 18-44 age group to major urban centres initially
·State in short supply for 45-plus age group, only few vaccine centres currently functioning
·Two lakh doses likely to arrive on Tuesday for vaccination of 45+ category
·Obesity, disabilities due to spinal cord injury also included in list of co-morbidities.