The number of eligible people for the Covid-19 vaccine in the third category comprising those above 50 years and those with comorbidities in Delhi is going to be more than 4.2 million as was initially estimated by the city administration last month, senior government officials said on Wednesday.
While the numbers of healthcare workers (300,000) and front line workers (600,000) remain roughly the same, a major spike in the number of beneficiaries is going to be seen in the “under 50 with comorbidities” category as the initial estimate of 4.2 million included only those above 50 years of age, a senior health official said.
Government data accessed by HT showed that the 4.2 million beneficiaries in the third category are only those above the age of 50 years as per the electoral rolls. The age of the beneficiary as on January 1 will be considered for vaccination.
Senior officials in the state chief electoral officer’s (Delhi CEO) office said the Delhi government estimate of 4.2 million is “nearly correct”.
“As per the electoral roll published on January 6, 2020, Delhi had nearly 4 million people who are 50 and above. The electoral roll published on January 18, 2019, had over 3.6 million such voters. From 2019-2020 we had seen an increase of 8.6% in the 50 and above segment of voters. Till November 16, 2020, we added 151,723 new voters to Delhi’s electoral rolls taking the total voters in Delhi up to at least 14,843,859,” said an electoral officer on condition of anonymity.
“As per the electoral roll published on January 6, 2020, Delhi had nearly 4 million people who are 50 and above. It’s been a year since then, so the number of such voters should be nearly 4.2 million as on date,” an electoral officer said, on condition of anonymity.
However, complete data of those below the age of 50 having comorbidities is still being collected at the district level, a senior revenue official said.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said the numbers announced by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal last month across the three categories for the first phase of vaccination were broad estimates which are likely to change as the registration process intensifies.
“The combined number of people who will get the Covid-19 vaccine shot in the first phase is fixed at around 5.1 million. However, the numbers within the categories of healthcare and front line workers are likely to decrease as their eligibility is being verified during the registration process. So, the vaccine shots slotted for other categories will also be given to the third category of 50+ people and those with comorbidities. Nevertheless, there is no need to panic and get stuck on specific numbers. Our vaccination programme will be an inclusive one and every one will get a shot sooner or later,” said Jain.
On Tuesday, NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul, during a press briefing, had said that the central government will soon release the inclusion criteria for states to identify those with comorbidities and prepare the priority list as per the severity of the comorbid conditions.
“A committee has been constituted to identify comorbid conditions that increase the risk of mortality if the person contracts Covid-19. The committee will decide criteria for inclusion such as for how they had the condition, or what a report needs to show. The committee will also suggest ways in which the criteria can be implemented. The report of the committee is expected within a couple of days. We will consider it and move ahead,” Dr Paul had said.
Senior officials in at least six of the 11 districts in Delhi said that a database of Delhi residents below the age of 50 with comorbidities was not available with them as on Wednesday.
“Each district has readied the list of those above 50 years of age from the electoral rolls. The districts have also gone a step further and segregated those who are 60 or more years. However, there is only a rudimentary database available as of now on the people below the age of 50 with comorbidities,” said a district magistrate on condition of anonymity.
A sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of South district who did not wish to be named said, “We have some data from the multiple surveys conducted during the last seven months. But, we don’t know whether that will be used or if some other mechanism will be used. We are told the Centre will issue some guidelines on how to identify and prioritise those below 50 with comorbidities.”
But, some areas such as the southeast district have asked their surveyors to continue with the door-to-door survey which began from hotspots and containment zones on November 20.
“That time, the focus was mostly on identifying comorbidities among high risk groups which includes senior citizens and pregnant women. Now, we have asked our anganwadi workers to specifically ask the age of a person and the types of comorbidities one has. It is true there is no fresh proforma to carry out the survey for identification of vaccination beneficiaries as of now,” said a senior official of the district.
An Asha worker employed at a dispensary in southwest Delhi and currently involved in survey work said, “We have been asked to collect health data of those 60 years and above for the list of Covid-19 vaccine beneficiaries. In addition, we have been asked to collect information of people who are 50-year-old and above with comorbidities as of now.”
The country is set to roll out the vaccine first among the healthcare workers within 10 days of the two vaccines – by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech – receiving emergency use authorisation from the apex drug regulator.
Dropping by at the vaccination sites, however, will not help in registering for the vaccine.
As per a senior Delhi government official, “Those above the age of 50 not on the electoral roll can either register themselves on the Co-WIN app or go to their Block Medical Officer to get registered. Those under the age of 50 with comorbidities will also have to do the same but they would need a doctor’s certificate on their current condition.”
As for those who do not have an address proof of Delhi, any government issued ID proof along with a photo certificate issued by their workplace and verified by a gazetted officer will be acceptable.