Bhubaneswar's 100% Vaccinated Claim Doesn't Count Pregnant Women, Recovered Patients
Civic officials recently called it the first Indian city to achieve its vaccination target, but numbers say otherwise
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) reportedly claimed on July 31, 2021 that Bhubaneswar had become the first city in India to achieve 100% COVID-19 vaccination.
"We had set benchmarks for each category. Except for migrating people we've achieved our target. Our 55 centres were always functional," said Ansuman Rath, Zonal Deputy Commissioner, BMC (South East), as reported by Asian News International (ANI).
Odisha | Bhubaneswar completed its target of 100% vaccination before July 31.— ANI (@ANI) July 31, 2021
We had set benchmarks for each category. Except for migrating people we've achieved our target. Our 55 centers were always functional: Anshuman Rath, Dy Commissioner, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation pic.twitter.com/K0pRN5qNyo
In fact, The Times of India, in its report, also quoted BMC's commissioner too making this claim. "Since our eligible population is 8.5 lakh and we have used doses more than the double, we have achieved 100% vaccination," TOI quoted Sanjay Kumar Singh, commissioner, BMC, as saying.
Also, Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer, NITI Aayog, was one of the first ones to have tweeted this claim. In fact, several news reports were based on this tweet.
Bhubaneswar first city to achieve 100% COVID vaccination, Puri first city to supply 24x7 drinking water. Congrats @Naveen_Odisha & people of Odisha for these achievements and for also sponsoring our national men & women hockey teams since 2018, who have now reached the semis!— Amitabh Kant (@amitabhk87) August 2, 2021
FactChecker spoke to Rath and looked at the daily COVID vaccination update released by Odisha. Both proved this claim to be misleading.
According to Rath, Bhubaneswar has a "core" population of 9,07,194 (eligible for the COVID-19 vaccinations), calculated using numbers provided by the National Urban Health Mission.
"We have completed [administering] both the doses to the core eligible population of Bhubaneswar. This consists 31,539 healthcare workers, 33,435 frontline workers, 5.17 lakh of those aged between 18-44 years, and 3,25,220 of those aged 45 and above," Rath told FactChecker.
But, until August 3, 2021, 8,15,942 people had been administered the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to data released by Odisha's Department of Health & Family Welfare (DoHFW). This means that 89.94% of the estimated target population has been fully vaccinated in the state and not 100%.
Furthermore, Rath mentioned that of the core eligible population, those who have recovered from COVID-19 recently have not been fully vaccinated as they are waiting out the 90-day gap. Also, pregnant women are getting their first doses too, COVID-19 vaccinations for whom started from July 2, 2021. This again proves that not all people belonging to the core eligible population have been fully vaccinated.
Also, between August 2 and August 3, 10,740 people got the second dose of the vaccine. However, the first dose was administered to 10,79,030 people in this period, according to data released by Odisha's Department of Health & Family Welfare. Although this could mean that 100% the projected estimate of the core population has received its first dose, but then 4,207 shots of the first dose were also administered in this period.
"There is a lot of migrating population which includes those who have come back from neighbouring states and districts to their work places in Bhubaneswar as we initiated our Unlock phase from this Monday [August 2, 2021]," Rath said. "We have also not restricted our vaccination drive to those residing just in Bhubaneswar, but have also kept it open for those from different parts of the district, or other districts as well," he added.
According to Odisha's daily bulletin, as of August 3, 2021, 87.3% of the total healthcare workers — 35,978 out of the targeted 41,231 — had been administered the first dose, and 86.3% were administered the second dose — 30,032 of 34,809. Both these target estimates are greater than the projected estimate of the core population of Bhubaneswar provided by Rath.
Similarly, 91.2% and 87.6% of the frontline workers were administered the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, respectively. The target estimate of frontline workers (34,809) too is greater than the projected estimate of 33,435 provided by Rath.
When asked about this, Rath said, "A major reason why many of the healthcare and frontline workers still left to be given the second dose is because they were infected as well and they have to wait out the stipulated 90-day period." So, not fully vaccinated.
That said, the civic officials have made strategic changes to speed up the vaccination drive. In June 2021, BMC Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Singh had, according to a report by The New Indian Express, said BMC had ramped up vaccination drive by increasing the number of session sites at community and public health centres to 30 from 26, increasing the drive-in session sites from 7 to 10, adding 15 centres at workplaces, and formed units for doorstep vaccinations of the elderly.
The civic body had also adopted a targeted vaccination approach on a priority basis to inoculate hotel and restaurant staff and delivery partners of Swiggy, Zomato, and other such service firms, the report added.
"We had also conducted special sessions for those residing in shelters for urban homeless, in which many destitute and beggars did not have an ID proof as well. For those, who are terminally ill, permanently bed-ridden, and those above 80 years of age, we had also set up a city helpline number (1929) for them to get registered and benefitted from the at-home vaccination drive," Rath concluded.