Some vaccination centres in the city will start offering the option of Covaxin to senior citizens and those above 45 with co-morbidities from Thursday. The move came after the state health department officials asked some hospitals to gradually introduce Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin into the community vaccination programme. So far, the home-grown vaccine was only being offered to willing healthcare and frontline workers.
“We are expecting to get an equal number of Covishield and Covaxin doses from Thursday. In order to inform recipients, we will put up posters announcing the availability of Covaxin. At the same time, we will have informative posters on this indigenous vaccine which will help people decide for themselves,” said nuclear cardiologist Alok Roy, chairman of Medica Group of Hospitals.
At Medica, hoardings will be put up at strategic places specifying which counter recipients should head to if they want Covaxin and which counter to approach in case their preference is Covishield.
“We are ready to provide Covaxin to people who turn up at Fortis from Thursday as has been advised by health department officials,” said Pratyush Srivastava, zonal director, Fortis Hospitals.
According to health department officials, for now, Covaxin will be provided to hospitals that have more than one vaccination booth where they can spare one booth exclusively for this vaccine. Since the vaccine is still being administered under the clinical trial mode, recipients need to sign a consent form unlike with Covishield.
“We will be starting Covaxin for senior citizens and those above 45 with co-morbidities at our Dhakuria unit. We already have a dedicated session site for Covaxin. But those who choose Covishield will also continue to get it from the other booth. We have started getting queries about Covaxin from people who are convinced about the vaccine’s efficacy,” said a source at AMRI Hospitals.
As Covaxin was rolled out on the clinical trial mode, many had raised questions about its efficacy and lack of data. A recently published interim report based on this phase III trial rates the vaccine’s efficacy at 81%.
“I am quite confident that there will be many takers for this home-grown vaccine. Of course, we are also going to tell people that both vaccines are good while leaving the choice to them,” said Roy, who also chairs the FICCI Health Services Committee.
Health department sources said Covaxin has to be gradually introduced into the community vaccination programme as the Union health ministry is likely to give more stress on this indigen-ous vaccine.
“So far, we have not been told to start offering Covaxin to recipients who turn up at our hospital. But that may change in future and we will do accordingly,” said Sudipta Mitra, CEO, Peerless Hospital.
Source: Times of India