Karnataka’s health minister Sudhakar has expressed concern over the lukewarm response to the Covid vaccine booster shots from the public. He pointed out that while the state has achieved 100 percent coverage of the two Covid shots, only 17 percent of the eligible population have availed booster shots so far.
“Not taking the booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine even when it has been made available free for everyone amounts to negligence and we as responsible citizens must avail booster shot to enhance immunity” Sudhakar said on Thursday. He was speaking to the media, following a meeting of the Covid-19 technical advisory committee.
The minister attributed the low booster coverage rate to public complacence and overconfidence that nothing would happen to them as they had survived the previous Covid-19 waves.
Noting that the entire nation is seeing an increase in the Covid positivity rate, Sudhakar said that the average positivity rate of Karnataka at 7.2 percent is far lower than states like Delhi which has reported an 18 percent positivity rate. However, the positivity rate in cities like Bengaluru, Shivamogga, Bagalkot and Bellary is higher than the state average, he pointed out.
Karnataka is currently conducting 30,000 Covid-19 tests each day and as per the guidelines of the Union government, only those who are symptomatic are being tested. Even in case of primary contacts, only those who are symptomatic are being tested, said Sudhakar.
Responding to a reporter who questioned him about the reason for the low coverage, Sudhakar said experts across the world have said that the immunity decreases or wanes after 6-7 months of taking the vaccine and the booster dose would be required to boost immunity again. The booster dose helps reduce hospitalizations and deaths, he added.
Responding to reports of some private hospitals refusing treatment to Covid patients, the minister warned, “No hospital can deny treatment to a Covid-19 patient with an excuse that they don’t treat them. Every hospital must treat such patients in isolation wards. I have received many complaints that many hospitals denied treatment. This is not just inhumane but also illegal. If any such complaints are received, strict action will be taken under the KPME and Epidemic Act.”