New Delhi: The Centre has advised the states and Union territories to sharpen their focus and prepare effective plans for expediting the second dose coverage among the healthcare and frontline workers as it termed the low Covid vaccination coverage among the priority groups, especially for the second dose, a cause of “serious concern”.Also Read - Coronavirus Update: AIIMS Study Claims Delta Variant Can Infect Despite Covishield, Covaxin Doses

In a high-level meeting chaired by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan with the states to review the progress of vaccination, it was highlighted that while the national average for the first dose administration among the healthcare workers (HCWs) is 82 per cent, for the second dose, it is only 56 per cent.

Further, the coverage in 18 states and Union territories, including Punjab, Maharashtra, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Assam, is below the national average in this aspect, a statement issued by the health ministry said.

For the frontline workers (FLWs), the national average of first-dose coverage is 85 per cent but for the second dose, it is only 47 per cent, the statement said.

Nineteen states and Union territories, including Bihar, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, Telangana, Karnataka and Punjab, have reported a second-dose coverage of FLWs below the national average, it added.

The Union health secretary reiterated that universal coverage and full protection amongst this group is crucial to protect the healthcare response to the pandemic and a timely completion of the vaccination schedule is important for conferring full protection to the beneficiaries. The states were asked to sharpen their focus and prepare effective plans for expediting the second dose administration for the HCWs and FLWs, the statement said.

The states were also asked to dedicate special time slots or sessions for the exercise, it added.

Bhushan highlighted the less than adequate private sector participation in the Covid vaccination drive.

According to the revised guidelines, 25 per cent of the vaccine stock can be procured by the private hospitals, which can set up Covid vaccination centres (CVCs) for supplementing the government’s efforts in further universalisation of the vaccination drive.

The limited presence of private hospitals and their unequal spread were highlighted for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam etc, the statement said.

The states were alerted to the new features on the Co-WIN portal, which were incorporated in light of the new vaccination guidelines.

(With agency inputs)