Viewpoint: Why vaccination matters

10 APR,2022 | MEDC


 

  • India's long battle against Covid depended critically on the power of vaccination. It is now disconcerting to note that some key companies are closing down some of their production lines and shifting their resources to other areas, since there are no more vaccine supply commitments. This cannot be construed as unalloyed good news. While almost a billion first doses have been handed out in India, the administration of second doses is about 15% less. It is still too early to assert that we have won the battle against Covid. While great strides have surely been made, vaccination coverage still remains incomplete. At almost every step of the chain – from producer, to hospital, to the public sector – the vaccination programme seems to have slackened since Omicron. That is not a good omen.
  • With Covid taking strange turns in some parts of the world, and another highly transmissible variant dubbed XE surfacing, Indian policymakers must strongly refocus attention on achieving universal vaccination. Aligning global and local health needs is the key to sustainable vaccine delivery. Having come this far, we now cannot afford to leave anything to chance. Vaccines are the most potent tools invented by humankind for safeguarding public health in such extraordinary times. They represent the tangible power of modern science and technology to alter human destiny, and thus, help revive economic growth, at a local, national and international level.
  • Vaccination is not a one-shot affair. It is a reflection of the overall governance capability of the system. To harness the power of safe and effective vaccines at scale requires functioning, well-managed and adequately financed primary healthcare systems. Even after the passing of Covid, it needs to be a policy priority, along with developing cold chain infrastructure and capable human resources ensuring last mile connectivity in communities throughout India. Equally important is developing secure data and IT systems, as well as trusted communication with families regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccines on their children and seniors. Without an adequate delivery infrastructure in place, many children and adults may not be able to fully experience the benefits of vaccination.
  • As per recent policy developments, a precaution (booster) dose will now be available to the entire 18+ population of India at private vaccination centres. This is a welcome step. The feeling of well-being that a booster shot provides its recipients returning to work and commute amidst crowds (especially in urban areas) should not be underestimated. An effective medicine works as much on the mind as it does on the body.
  • Policymakers need to ensure that no community anywhere in India is deprived of access to elementary healthcare services, primarily universal vaccination. More clarity on the vaccination programme is in the national interest. To end on a positive note, thanks to a rapid vaccination campaign (which is still not fully complete) and generally accommodative policies, India’s economic recovery has proceeded faster than expected and the medium-term growth outlook remains favorable.

*Picture Credit: Google

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