20% State’s population targeted for vaccination this year

‘This comprises healthcare workers, frontline workers and prioritised age groups’

A total of 1.6 crore persons, or 20% of Tamil Nadu’s population, is targeted for vaccination against COVID-19 from January to December this year.

Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan made a presentation on ‘Tamil Nadu strategy, present status and way forward’ during the visit of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday.

According to the presentation, the targeted population are healthcare workers, frontline workers and prioritised age groups (those aged above 50 and those aged below 50 with co-morbidities). The first category comprises healthcare providers and workers in the government and private sectors. Frontline workers include personnel of the State and Central police forces, armed reserve forces, Home Guards, and disaster management and revenue officials.

A total of 2,729 cold chain points are available in the State. These included one State vaccine store, 10 regional vaccine stores, 50 Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation walk-in coolers, 44 district vaccine stores, 24 government medical college hospitals, 303 government hospitals and 27 private medical college hospitals.

As many as 5,307 pieces of cold chain equipment were available, while a request had been made to the Centre for 1,144 ice-lined refrigerators, 992 deep freezers, 10 walk-in coolers and 10 walk-in freezers.

“The way forward for the State is to suppress the transmission of COVID-19, fatality mitigation by effective clinical management, strengthening essential non-COVID healthcare services and COVID-19 appropriate behaviour in the community,” Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

Now, the focus was on working around COVID-19, he said. “We want to slow down the spread, reduce test positivity and COVID-19 mortality, equip health systems for the worst case scenarios, bring about a behaviour change in the community and institutional strengthening and capacity-building.”

COVID-19 cases were gradually coming down. “At one point, we touched 60,000 active cases. Now, we have 7,547 active cases. The death rate is 1.48%. The cases peaked during July-August, while we had 127 deaths per day on August 15. Today, we have less than 15 deaths, mostly on account of co-morbidities. Some districts have nil deaths,” he said.

The State’s doubling time was 593 days while Chennai that hit nearly 2,500 cases at one time had a doubling time of 685 days. So far, 6,17,937 fever camps had been held, in which 3,26,64,841 persons were screened. On the test positivity rate, he said the aim was to reach 1%. “Some districts have above 2%, and we want to intensify focused testing here.”

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