With the ongoing vaccination programme for Covid-19 witnessing a lukewarm response among beneficiaries, the drive is expected to be made open for beneficiaries in the age group of 45-59 years with no comorbidities by April-end, officials in the health department said. At present, the mass immunisation programme is going on for healthcare workers, frontline workers, people above 60 years and those between 45 and 59 years with comorbidities.

“The states will have to individually plan out steps to amplify the vaccination drive. The next phase will include people between 45 and 59 years having no comorbidities and it may start by April-end. But before that, we have to complete the existing groups. While making it open for the general population, we will also have to ensure that the priority groups are covered,” said Dr Suneela Garg, member of the Covid-19 Task Force of Lancet Commission.

As per data, 38,437 were inoculated on Tuesday. The data includes 1,915 healthcare workers, 2,978 frontline workers, 19,007 beneficiaries above 60 years and 3,223 between 45 and 59 years with pre-existing illness.

The Delhi government had planned to inoculate three lakh healthcare workers, six lakh frontline workers and around 20 lakh people above the age of 60 years and between 45-59 years.

Dr Sujeet Singh, head of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said: “It is important to address concerns regarding the vaccination drive so that people are motivated to come forward. If people are not coming forward due to overcrowding, then maybe the government can add more private centres. But such decisions are to be taken by the respective state governments.”

A senior district official said. “Since the vaccination drive is not mandatory, we cannot force anyone to take the shot. We have been trying to raise awareness among the public by busting myths about the side-effects of the vaccine. A team from our district has been making calls, visiting houses to motivate people about the programme. We are giving them examples of top officials who have taken the first shot and are now ready to take the second dose.”

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