CM Uddhav Thackeray said on Sunday the city had 19 lakh fully vaccinated people (see box) while announcing the decision on local trains. People from the 18-44 age group that is going to be the most mobile account for only 2.6% of the fully vaccinated.
Immunisation for this group was mired in controversy from the start. The Centre, while opening vaccination for them from May 1, had put the onus of buying vaccines on the states. States, which were getting supplies from the Centre until then, went into a scramble to procure doses from manufacturers. Maharashtra could only manage a few lakh doses that lasted less than two weeks.
Vaccination for the 18-44s briefly ran between May 1 and 12 before the state decided to prioritise the second dose for the 45-plus. The drive was suspended for the younger group till June 21, and only those who could afford paid shots got the doses at private centres.
Epidemiologist Dr Chandrakant Lahariya said the decision to allow fully vaccinated people was right, but exceptions must be made for those who have taken the first dose and agree to wear a mask while travelling. “After all, it’s not their fault that they couldn’t get vaccinated or the time gap between two doses is 84 days,” he said. Also, the decision could have been taken with a notice of three to four weeks so that they had a chance to get vaccinated.
Dr Shashank Joshi, member of the Covid task force, said the decision of allowing fully vaccinated people was a global yardstick. “We don’t know what percentage of people from which age group uses the local trains. But vaccination by definition means two doses. Hence, complete vaccination as a yardstick is a scientific decision. It should reasonably help to keep transmission in check in a local where there is crowding and congregation,” he said.
Lahariya argued that in countries such as France and Italy, where full vaccination is necessary to enter stadiums, restaurants, there is no vaccine unavailability. “Here, if a person wants to get vaccinated tomorrow, he cannot,” he said.
Officials said full vaccination in this age bracket will see a jump in 45 days. “Many got vaccinated in the private sector. They will be eligible for a second dose by the end of August and early September,” said one.