The Union and State Governments really need to hasten the vaccination process as Covid-19 cases are strongly on the upswing, nationwide. While desperate measures such as lockdowns are being taken in badly hit cities; that is by no means the way forward. The people are now psychologically and financially not in the state to undergo that kind of hardship anymore and, as has been the case in many countries across the world, are likely to ‘prefer’ the danger of Covid to long term lockdowns. Even the weekly shutdown in Dehradun, for instance, has faced strong opposition. And, as time passes by, an increasing number of persons are not even maintaining the simple protocols of wearing masks and physical distancing. As for avoiding crowds – the ongoing farmers’ protests and political rallies have truly put paid to that.
So, the only recourse is to expand the vaccination footprint. The basic system has been put in place and by now is functioning well. The CoWin portal is now being used effectively by people to get vaccinated. Those who are unable to operate it are benefiting from walk-in registration at the hospitals. Even so, the statistics indicate that most vaccinations are taking place in government hospitals, rather than the private ones. It is important that the private sector step forward and do its part better, particularly as it has a considerable footprint in the urban areas.
One important need in the vaccination campaign is to end vaccine hesitancy, particularly among frontline workers, who are most exposed to the infection. The elderly, too, must turn out and get their jabs, as they are the most vulnerable. They must consider it their duty to get vaccinated, one, because it has to be made available to younger persons as soon as possible and, two, because they will have to deal with larger crowds, later.
At the present, it is being estimated that herd immunity through vaccinations at the present rate will take place by end of 2024. This is by no means acceptable – the target should be a much earlier date. While it is true that vaccinating the vulnerable would bring down the fatalities, the danger exists for others, also. A lot of economic activity is being hindered by the danger of infection. So, despite all the elections, political battles and other differences, the nation should remain focused on the fight. There can be no let up in the effort, or succumbing to pandemic fatigue.