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Over 13.7 lakh doses in a day — Andhra created a record even before India vaccinated 85 lakh

Andhra Pradesh health authorities say they can better the record as state has the capacity to vaccinate 20 lakh people a day, attribute success to 'strong network of village-level health workers'.

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Hyderabad: Even before India vaccinated a record 85 lakh people on the first day of a new drive Monday, Andhra Pradesh set a record of sorts by covering more than 13.7 lakh people a day earlier, thanks to its “strong network of village-level health workers”. And the state’s health department says it can better that record as it has the capacity to vaccinate 20 lakh people a day.

The 13,72,481 vaccinations on Sunday was the highest on a single day by any state so far, until the new drive began.

The primary factor contributing to the Sunday numbers, according to the health department, was the fact that the state received nearly 14 lakh doses in bulk from the central government over two days last week.

Health Commissioner Katamaneni Bhasker said the state received about 9 lakh doses Thursday and 5 lakh doses Saturday night.

On Sunday, the state surpassed its previous high of about 6.32 lakh vaccinations in a day, a feat it achieved in April during the Tika Utsav. According to officials, 47 per cent of the total doses administered in the country Sunday was done in Andhra alone.

“We have the capacity to store 2 crore doses, so the doses that came to us over the two days (Thursday and Saturday) were administered together on Sunday. The only factor why the number looks so high is that we got the vaccines in bulk this time. Otherwise, we get 3-4 lakh doses once in 3-4 days,” Bhasker told ThePrint Monday.

He added: “We have the capacity to vaccinate even 20 lakh people on a single day. We have such a network. So whatever (stock) we got, we used. And before these 14 lakh doses, the previous stock had exhausted.”

Bhasker stressed that the doses received by the state were not beyond the total numbers approved for allocation by the central government.

“…AP has set an example by administering 13,72,481 vaccine doses in a single day. Credit goes to the team effort by the Village/Ward Secretariats, Volunteers, ANMs, ASHA workers, PHC doctors, Mandal Officers, Joint Collectors & Collectors…” Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy tweeted Monday.

The state administered 48,785 doses Monday.

Also read: India’s ZyCoV-D set to become world’s first DNA Covid vaccine as govt approval likely soon

Network of health workers 

The Andhra Pradesh government claims to have a strong network of village-level health workers in place, which made the record feat possible.

Apart from accredited social health activists (ASHA) and auxiliary nursing midwives (ANMs), the state has ‘village volunteers’ under every village-level secretariat, an advanced form of panchayat system set up by CM Jagan Reddy. These volunteers have also been part of the vaccination drive.

For instance, 50 families in a village are overseen by one volunteer, and they keep track of health data, schemes distribution, tests, vaccination etc, helping the state easily gather updated data of candidates eligible for vaccine, Bhaskar said.

There are about 40,000 ASHA workers in Andhra Pradesh, which is on par with other states with similar population, but the state has a higher number of ANMs — close to 19,000. For a state the size of Andhra, the number of ANM workers could be around 9,000, Bhasker said. The state has close to 15,000 gram panchayats.

The vaccines that reached the state capital Thursday night were dispatched to far-off districts first, while the ones that came Saturday night reached the nearer districts by Sunday morning, according to the health department.

Vaccination was done at 4,589 centres across the state, and it claims to have the capacity for 15,000 such centres. Hardly any vaccine dose is left after the mega drive Sunday, a source from the health department told ThePrint.

During the special drive Sunday, the preference was given to the 45+ age group and mothers with children under five years old, officials said. The drive started at 8 am and continued till 10 pm.

According to the CoWin portal, over 1.4 crore doses have been administered in the state until Monday — with 1,12,63,694 people having received the first dose and 27,45,683 both doses. Women accounted for more than 50 per cent of the total.

The population of the state, according to the 2011 Census, is 4.9 crore.

Of the 1.4 crore doses administered till now, 1.17 crore doses were of Covishield and 22.7 lakh were of Covaxin. About 5,000 Sputnik doses have been administered too.

At least six districts administered more than 1 lakh doses Sunday, with highest numbers coming from West Godavari and East Godavari. The distribution of vaccines to districts was also done based on population, Covid positivity rate etc, health officials said.

There were allegations that the doses were actually administered a week ago but were registered on the portal Sunday, but Bhasker refuted this. “What is the need for the state to do so? We have a strong network in place of village-, mandal- and district-level workers. And if we have enough stock and a prior notice of 48 hours, the state can easily vaccinate even 25 lakh people in a day,” he said.

Also read: Are states quietly adding ‘backlog’ to Covid death toll? Modi govt wants audit & analysis


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