Priority for those above 50 with comorbidities in phase 3 of Covid vaccination
Health staff will also collect data of Bengaluru’s slum population
Phase 3 of Covid vaccination will begin in March, says BBMP chief
In a first in the country, Bengaluru has decided to collect the data of nearly 1.3 crore of its residents who have comorbidities – implying two or more diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and blood pressure — in an IT-based exercise.
Announcing this on Friday, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said the exercise would be part of phase 3 of the Covid vaccination drive beginning in March.
The Commissioner said the survey will be called ‘Assessment of Health and Preventive Risk Profiling Survey’. Describing the process, he said, “By providing an online link, people need not provide any document pertaining to their diseases. They only need to provide their comorbidity status while providing their name, address and contact mobile number. By providing this data, citizens can help BBMP track their health status and prioritise them for stage 3 of the Covid vaccination drive.”
Prasad was addressing a meeting of his team members consisting of fellow IAS officers, Special Commissioners and health officials working within the BBMP limits.
Date to be finalised
He said phase 3 of the vaccination drive will begin in March and the state government will announce the date of its commencement. “In phase 3, those who are above the age of 50 years and those who are suffering from comorbidities will be given priority for vaccination. Those below the age of 50 years will not be vaccinated unless they too suffer from comorbidities,” he added.
Prasad said a software has been developed and a link will be provided to citizens so that they can update their details on the site. This apart, Asha workers, ANM staff and link workers will conduct door-to-door surveys in the city’s slums, where more than 20 lakh people reside, to collect their data for including them in phase 3 of the vaccination drive.
The Commissioner said BBMP will provide 2,500 tabs for the surveys which will be attached to the newly developed software. All the data will be automatically updated once it is filled by the ground staff. “Teams of two — one male and one female — will conduct a door-to-door survey and around 10 minutes will be required to enter one family’s data in the tab,” Prasad said.
Tests via Bluetooth devices
Bluetooth-enabled devices would also be used to take BP and blood sugar tests of those residing in the slums, and this would add to the available health data, Prasad said.
Sounding a note of caution, the BBMP chief said people were becoming indifferent since the Covid cases in Bengaluru were decreasing. He pointed to the growing Covid cases in neighbouring states like Kerala and Maharashtra and the fact that Maharashtra has witnessed cases of the Brazilian and South African variants of Covid-19.
Bengaluru has seen a huge number of people coming from all over, and the Karnataka government has made it mandatory for those coming from Kerala to submit an RT-PCR negative report which is not older than 72 hours before arrival. “Regarding travellers who have failed to bring a Covid-negative report, we have taken steps to ensure that they are under home quarantine till a Covid-19 test is conducted on them,” the Commissioner said.
Prioritising high-risk groups
Prioritisation of the high-risk sub-population for Covid vaccination is critical due to the following reasons:
• Presence of comorbidities in patients with Covid-19 has often been associated with increased in-hospital complications and mortality.
• Diabetes/hypertension prevalence is highest in Indian Covid patients, and diabetes and hypertension are frequently occurring comorbidities.
• 1 in 10 adults has type 2 diabetes mellitus.
• 1 in 3 has hypertension.
• Urban poor are at the highest risk of NCD-related adversities.
• Those who have missed vaccination previously can be missed again.
• People from higher socio-economic strata can self-register and get vaccinated.
• It is the responsibility of the authorities/BBMP to identify and cover the urban poor and other vulnerable sections.
Plan of action
• Collect the data regarding presence of high-frequency comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and hypertension.
• Create a population registry that acts as a master template scheduling vaccination and sustenance of NCD services in future with a focus on urban slums.
• Augment error-free data automation
• Currently there has been a spurt in cases in Maharashtra. Also, since over a month there is a high burden of cases in Kerala. In Karnataka, there have been some cluster outbreaks in Mangaluru and Bengaluru in closed community settings.
• The number of Covid tests has been reduced from 1-1.25 lakh per day to about 70,000 this month.
• The interstate movement of persons cannot be restricted as per the advisory of the Centre.
• The state has also permitted 100% occupancy in cinema theatres based on a GoI advisory.
• Also, there is a proposal to permit physical attendance of students in classes 6 to 8.
• Generally, there is poor public compliance even in respect of the most important aspect of compulsory wearing of face masks.
• The current scenario of Covid-19 in Maharashtra and Kerala is fast changing.
• The GoI report has mentioned evidence of the Brazilian and South African variants of the virus in Kerala and Maharashtra.
• These are neighbouring states of Karnataka, and outbreaks have been triggered by arrivals from Kerala in Mangaluru (191 out of 2,806 tested positive) and Bengaluru ( 40 out of 200 tested positive). Besides, there was a large outbreak following a super-spreader party event in a big apartment complex in Bengaluru (103 positives out of 1,052 tested). The South African and Brazilian variants are known to be highly infectious and thus spread faster. These are warning signs of a possible second wave coming.
• Hence, strict enforcement of guidelines and having more marshals/police to enforce compulsory wearing of face masks in public areas of Karnataka and enhanced testing by following a syndromic approach is essential.