On PM's Birthday On Friday, Government Aims For Vaccination Record
India's next big daily Covid vaccination record - after 88.09 lakh on June 21 and 1.03 crore on August 27 - is likely to be set Friday, when leaders of the ruling BJP have been urged to promote the jabs and state officials told to double the daily rate to celebrate Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 71st birthday,Top officials now accept they are aiming for a record on the Prime Minister's birthday."He is our Prime Minister... on his birthday we will try to make a fresh daily vaccination record," Dr Sujeet Singh, the Director of the National Centre for Disease Control, told NDTV.The push for a new daily record on the Prime Minister's birthday comes amid intense scrutiny of vaccination numbers, and with the focus on an ever-growing target - currently around 1.2 crore doses per day - to inoculate at least 60 per cent of the population by December-end.While a large part of efforts to boost numbers for the day will likely come from BJP-ruled states (or those ruled by its NDA allies), the worry is the larger states - which must deliver big numbers to ensure a record is set - are going slow on vaccines in the build-up to Friday.Back in June - when Madhya Pradesh set a national record by administering nearly 17 lakh vaccines in a day - the day before those numbers only 4,098 people were jabbed.Fast-forward to today and, across India, vaccinations have fallen by over 15 per cent - from over 80 lakh average daily doses a fortnight ago to around 69 lakh as of Tuesday.In Uttar Pradesh - where less than seven per cent of the population is fully vaccinated - government sources say the aim is to "significantly better its single-day record" of 35 lakh doses set last week.To reach that target, camps are planned for Ballia in the eastern part of the state, where less than two lakh people have been vaccinated. Ballia's population is around 30 lakh."We will have a special campaign in place for September 17... there will be 192 vaccination centres on the day and targets will be fixed soon," Dr SK Tiwari, the district's Acting Chief Medical Officer, said.In central UP's Kannauj, officials say the Friday target is 26,000 doses - double the district's daily numbers. As of 5 pm Wednesday, fewer than 2,100 doses were given in Kannauj.For the week ending September 10, UP administered over 92.5 lakh doses.For the week ending September 17, so far, only 34.75 lakh doses have been administered.In Bihar, fewer than 87,000 doses were administered till 5 pm, according to the CoWin dashboard.For the week ending September 10 Bihar gave over 48.1 lakh doses. For the week starting September 11 (which ends Friday, with the PM's birthday), fewer than 25 lakh doses have been given so far.Like Dr Singh, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also acknowledged a "huge vaccination drive" will be carried out on Friday and said, "we are getting ready for that"."It is the Prime Minister's birthday on the 17th... on that day we will carry out a huge vaccination drive across Bihar. We are getting ready for that," Mr Kumar said yesterday.Dips in Bihar and UP are mirrored in other states - including Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat.Gujarat administered over 36 lakh doses between September 4 and 10, but has given out fewer than 11 lakh from September 11 to today.Ultimately, record vaccination numbers are good, even critical, if a country of over 130 crore people is to be fully protected against the coronavirus.But this will need a sustained and daily focus on vaccine delivery rather than one-day records.Focus on vaccination also comes as top government officials continue to warn of a third wave of infections from existing variants of the virus, as well as further possible mutations.Concerns have also been expressed over the forthcoming festival season and possible disregard for Covid safety rules, which triggered a wave of infections this time last year.