1 in 4 Himachal adults fully vaccinated, against India’s 1 in 18 — here’s how hill state did it

The tiny hill state of Himachal Pradesh is racing ahead of the rest of the country with Covid vaccination, recording 62 per cent first-dose coverage against a national average of 23.4 per cent, as of Wednesday.

Of the state’s vaccine-eligible population, 23 per cent are fully vaccinated. For India, the figure is 5.7 per cent. Himachal Pradesh has the highest first-dose vaccination coverage among states, while Ladakh — which achieved 100 per cent first-dose coverage earlier this month — is the topper among union territories.

It is not as if the state has all the vaccines it needs, though. The initial target was to achieve 100 per cent first-dose coverage by the end of July, but that target has been pushed by another 15 days because of availability limitations, principal secretary health Amitabh Awasthi told ThePrint.

There are, however, other factors that have helped the state’s case. The fact that there is very little vaccine hesitancy, said Awasthi, and that the health department has a presence in each of the 10,000 villages of the state (including those rendered remote by the state’s rugged terrain), which helped ensure access was never a problem.

“We have a progressive population and the initial awareness campaigns worked very well. So the inbuilt vaccine hesitancy is less than other places. We also decided that instead of making people travel to centres, we should go to them,” said Awasthi.

“So, we carried out vaccinations in all primary health centres, sometimes in health sub-centres, and made use of the school buildings that have mostly been lying unused. We also wanted to ensure that the vaccinations never stopped — it should not be that we vaccinate the first three days of the week and then run out of doses for the rest of the week. So, we set realistic targets. We aimed at about 40,000-50,000 per day,” Awasthi said.

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