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75% vote to open vaccination for all above 18: LocalCircles survey

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30 per cent survey respondents say they observed or experienced some irregularities on the ground like false certification to people above 45 as co-morbid or qualifying individuals as healthcare or frontline workers

 LocalCircles, a community social media platform conducted a survey around irregularities in the COVID-19 vaccine administration process as well as on the solutions proposed by citizens.

The survey reportedly received approximately 19,000 responses from citizens located in 281 districts of India. 68 per cent of the respondents were men while 32 per cent were women.

While 75 per cent of the 19000 respondents were in favour of Government opening vaccination for all above 18 years by permitting private labs and hospitals to vaccinate post 6 pm for slightly extra charges, 30 per cent of respondents say some healthcare professionals are influencing or falsely-certifying to qualify people as co-morbid or health or frontline workers.

Of the citizens who experienced or observed irregularities with the COVID-19 vaccine administration process, 73 per cent said some healthcare professionals are influencing or falsely certifying to qualify people as co-morbid, health or frontline workers

The question in the survey that sought to understand from citizens if they observed or experienced any irregularities with regard to COVID-19 vaccine administration so, 70 per cent of citizens said they did not experience or observed any irregularities, or don’t have any experience with vaccine. There were, however, 15 per cent of citizens saying they observed “(1) influencing or certification by healthcare professionals to qualify someone as co-morbid or as a health or frontline worker”, 3 per cent said “(2) overcharging to qualify someone as co-morbid or as a health or frontline worker”, and 5 per cent said “(3) administration of leftover doses to those using influence or providing monetary gratification”. Breaking down the poll, 3 per cent observed both “1 & 2” irregularities from the aforementioned options. 2 per cent said “1 & 3”, and another 2 per cent observed all three irregularities from the options. The question in the poll received 10,277 responses.

 Of the citizens who experienced or observed irregularities with the COVID-19 vaccine administration process, 73 per cent said some healthcare professionals are influencing or falsely certifying to qualify people as co-morbid, health or frontline workers

 Alternatively, separately considering the percentage of citizens who observed or experienced irregularities with the vaccine administration process for the magnitude of different types of irregularities, 50 per cent said “(1) influencing or certification by healthcare professionals to qualify someone as co-morbid or as a health or frontline worker”, 10 per cent said “(2) overcharging to qualify someone as co-morbid or as a health or frontline worker”, and 17 per cent said “(3) administration of leftover doses to those using influence or providing monetary gratification”. Breaking down the poll, 10 per cent observed both “1 & 2” irregularities from the aforementioned options. 6 per cent said “1 & 3”, and 7 per cent observed all three irregularities from the options. The findings indicated that citizens who experienced or observed irregularities with the COVID-19 vaccine administration process, 73 per cent said some healthcare professionals are influencing or falsely certifying to qualify people as co-morbid, health or frontline workers.

75 per cent of citizens responding to the survey were in favour of Government opening vaccination for all above 18 years by permitting private labs and hospitals to vaccinate post 6 pm for slightly extra charges.

The release notes that wastage of COVID-19 vaccines has shot-up since its inoculation started on January 16, 2021. In Jaipur, for instance, 1.63 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses have gone wastage till March 8. Similarly, in Maharashtra, vaccine wastage is at 3.2 per cent as of March 14.

The release states that according to a few citizens, the increase in wastage of COVID-19 vaccines is a problem that must be tackled with optimisation and scheduling algorithms. Some citizens have suggested a different approach.

Per their solution, since wastage is to be minimised and there are plenty of vaccine doses available and more getting ready each day just with Serum Institute’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, the Government should open vaccination on walk in and appointment basis at private hospitals and labs (those willing) after 6 pm for slightly extra charges.

This according to respondents will lead to faster vaccination of the population and put an end to the malpractices reported. The slightly higher charges will cover healthcare staff compensation for working in after hours. Potentially, even a percentage of those doses going waste could be reduced according to people. To understand if the collective identified with such a solution, the following question in the poll sought to understand citizens’ perception if the Government should open vaccination (appointment and walk-in) for all above 18 by permitting private labs and hospitals to vaccinate post 6 pm (after 6 hours) and charge slightly extra. The majority of 75 per cent said “Yes”. There were only 19 per cent of citizens who said “No”, while 6 per cent said “can’t say”. The question in the poll received 8,679 responses.   

It is worth a mention here that in the LocalCircles poll on what people were willing to pay for two vaccine dose of COVID-19, majority were ok with a price below INR 600. Hence a price like INR 600 could be a fair price for after-hours vaccination at a private facility while they would continue charging INR 500 during regular working hours.  

In summary, the release notes that though only 30 per cent of citizens have flagged irregularities by healthcare professionals influencing or falsely-certifying to qualify people as co-morbid or health or frontline workers, it is critical for the Government, along with the hospital administrators to plug the gaps outlined in the report so that COVID-19 doses are inoculated to the right people, and concomitantly reduce vaccine wastage.

As suggested by experts vis-à-vis citizens on the LocalCircles platform, the Government should consider opening vaccination (appointment and walk-in) for all above 18 in after hours via private hospitals and labs for slightly higher charges. This suggestion has support of the collective if one were to go by the findings of the poll in which 75 per cent of responding citizens support such an initiative as it would lead to a higher percentage of the Indian population getting vaccinated faster. More vaccinations will help India in reaching herd immunity faster as well as safety for all those children who cannot be vaccinated because of the minimum age criteria.

 LocalCircles has indicated that it will escalate the findings of this study for consideration to the Government stakeholders as well as for broader public awareness and discussion.

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