42% of those eligible currently unwilling to take the precaution or booster dose
- ● Of those eligible, 29% had COVID and plan on taking it later; 29% waiting for daily cases to reduce
- ● Of those eligible, 14% are unlikely to take it while 28% of them are awaiting more information
- ● 81% of the citizens surveyed want the Government to include administration of precaution dose in the “Har Ghar Dastak” program
February 5, 2022, New Delhi: The country has witnessed a decline in daily COVID cases, coupled with a decline in Test Positivity Rates weeks after a surge that recorded nearly 350,000 daily cases. With daily reported cases now around 150,000, medical experts are stating that most major cities have already witnessed the peak of the 3rd wave, and the numbers are declining. The Health Ministry has highlighted the importance of vaccination in reducing COVID-related deaths, hospitalisations and severe symptoms on multiple occasions.
The vaccination drive for a precaution dose or 3rd dose started on January 10th, 2022 for priority groups, including frontline workers and senior citizens with co-morbidities. The decision was taken after 2 doses of vaccines were found to provide limited immunity against Omicron. However, the demand for the booster/precaution dose has been low. As of February 3rd, only 1.25 crore precaution doses have been administered. Per media reports, there is misinformation and rumours about the precaution dose in some districts, as was witnessed during the first vaccination drive. Posts on social media revealed that some citizens do not believe that the precaution dose is effective. Health experts believe that the uptake is also low due to the mild symptoms and low death rate linked with Omicron. A large part of the eligible population has also been infected with COVID and thus, will only be able to the jab in the coming months. Media reports have been rife with high infection rates among healthcare and frontline workers, with some getting infected for the second or third time. The Indian Medical Association recently stated that hesitancy for the precaution dose was mainly among paramedics in the healthcare workers category. These include nurses, therapists, technicians and other ancillary personnel involved in medical services.
The ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ proved successful during the first campaign with a 5.9% increase in 1st dose coverage and 11.7% in 2nd dose coverage within the first month of the campaign, as per data from the Health Ministry. Further, it also reduced for recipients the risk of contracting the virus at vaccination centres.
LocalCircles has conducted a survey to understand why the eligible population has not taken the precaution dose. Further, the survey tried to understand if citizens want the Government to include vaccination for eligible children and precaution dose in the “Har Ghar Dastak” program. The survey received over 22,000 responses from citizens. 62% respondents were men while 38% respondents were women. 42% respondents were from tier 1, 30% from tier 2 and 28% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
Of those who are eligible and still haven’t taken the precaution dose, 58% of them likely to take in the coming months
The survey asked citizens, “Why have you or members of your family not taken the precaution/booster dose of COVID vaccine yet?” In response, 29% of citizens said “Those eligible had Omicron-COVID so they plan to take it later” and another 29% said “Those eligible did not have Omicron-COVID and are just waiting for daily cases to reduce to take the dose”. There were also 8% who said “Those eligible to take the precaution/booster dose believe that the vaccine isn’t helpful and do not plan to take it” and 6% said “Those eligible haven’t taken any COVID vaccine dose so far as they are hesitant.” 28% said “Those eligible haven’t taken the precaution/booster dose are awaiting data to see if it is effective and then take it”. On average, of those who are eligible and still haven’t taken the precaution dose, 58% of them likely to take in the coming months. On the other hand, 14% of the eligible citizens are hesitant and 28% say that they are awaiting more data. This question in the survey received 9,986 responses.
81% of the citizens surveyed want the Government to include vaccination for children and precaution dose in the “Har Ghar Dastak” program
The survey asked citizens, “To minimise crowding at vaccination centers given the surge in cases, should the Government include precaution dose and vaccination for children in the “Har Ghar Dastak” program immediately?” In response, only 14% of Indian citizens said “No” while the majority of 81% said “Yes” and 5% did not have an opinion. This question received 10,112 responses.
In summary, the demand for precaution dose is currently low with only 1.25 doses administered in over 3 weeks. Although 58% of those eligible are likely to take it in the months to come, 42% are currently unsure or hesitant. Of this 42%, 14% are unlikely to take it. Of the 58%, there are 29% eligible people who have said that they have had COVID during the 3rd wave and hence they must wait and take it later. The other 29% are likely to take it as cases reduce.
The Central and State Governments must ensure that the benefits of the precaution dose are communicated to the eligible citizens more effectively. The Government must also consider adding precaution doses and vaccination for children to the ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ programme. This is confirmed by the findings of the survey as 81% Indians were found in favour this move. It has proven successful in accelerating first and second dose vaccination and it is time the Government consider including the precaution dose in it along with vaccination for children.
LocalCircles will share the findings of the survey with Government stakeholders so that Central and State Governments can take appropriate action.
The survey received over 22,000 responses from citizens. 62% respondents were men while 38% respondents were women. 42% respondents were from tier 1, 30% from tier 2 and 28% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.