With several north Karnataka districts continuing to lag in vaccination, the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has warned that the third wave, as and if it happens, is likely to hit this region the most.
Expressing concern over the poor vaccination coverage in NK districts, especially Bidar, Vijayapura, Kalaburagi, Raichur, Haveri, and others adjoining Maharashtra, the TAC has recommended that vaccination in these districts needs to be ramped up on a war-footing through special outreach community campaigns.
At its 126th meeting on September 26, the TAC discussed the poor vaccination in these districts adjoining Maharashtra from where there is a possibility of infection spillover into Karnataka. On the variants of concern (VoC), the TAC report said: “Delta is infectious but not virulent. The sub-lineages of Delta have not shown any serious public health consequences. The absence of a surge post Ganesha Chaturthi could be largely due to good vaccination progress (78% for first dose and 33% for the second).”
Incidentally, NK districts have recorded a low seroprevalence rate (in the second sero survey) and are also consistently showing a low rate of infection over the last one month.
But, public health experts warned that the low vaccination rate and low seroprevalence in these districts could prove costly if and when a third wave hits the State.
Last week, Chief Minister Basvaraj Bommai, who chaired a high-level pandemic review meeting with experts, said that Revenue Minister R. Ashok and Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhkar will visit north Karnataka districts and monitor measures on ramping up vaccination coverage there on a campaign mode.
Dr. Sudhakar admitted that the region of concern is Kalyana Karnataka. “Half the districts in Karnataka have vaccinated more than 80% of the people with the first dose. Majority of the remaining districts have coverage of over 70%. However, the region of concern is Kalyana Karnataka. Three districts in the region are lagging in vaccination coverage with less than 65% coverage,” he said.
Stating that the district health officials attribute it to vaccine hesitancy, the Minister said: “We are trying to understand reasons for vaccine hesitancy and address them.”
District Health Officers (DHOs) of the districts with poor coverage said the vaccine hesitancy is mainly because the people are worried that they will lose out on their daily wages if they develop fever, pain at the injection site, or any other adverse event following immunisation.