55% citizens in favour of Government expanding the COVID precaution or booster dose program to include all adults; 1 in 2 of those willing to get boosted keen to try a different vaccine
- ● 31% citizens are not in favour of Government expanding the precaution dose eligibility criteria and 14% even believe that the booster program should be suspended.
March 28, 2022, New Delhi: The vaccination drive for a precaution dose or booster started in India on January 10th, 2022, for priority groups, including frontline workers and senior citizens with co-morbidities. As per official data, nearly 2.2 crore of the eligible population has received precaution doses so far. Efforts are on to increase the booster dose program for the eligible population of India, with district officials holding camps at various locations urging people to come forward. With the current gap to avail the booster dose being 9 months, Covishield manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) has requested the Government of India to reduce the 3rd dose timeframe to 6 months as well as avail the precaution dose to citizens above 18 years.
Health experts in India are of the view that India needs to ramp up delivery of booster doses in light of the global rise in COVID cases. Countries in south and east Asia are reporting a surge in cases, while countries like US, UK and France are reporting multiple cases of the recombinant variants of SARS-CoV2 called Deltacron. The CDC China has issued a stark warning last week on Deltacron, citing that Delta-Omicron recombinant is like a Grey Rhino event i.e. a slowly emerging, obvious threat that is ignored or minimised by decision makers. Over 560 cases of Deltacron have also been reported in India.
As far as India’s precaution dose program goes, media reports indicate that the Government is still evaluating the expansion of the eligibility criteria. Currently only citizens above the age of 60 along with health and frontline workers are eligible for the precaution dose. Some citizens planning to travel abroad during summer, especially Europe and Middle East nations are keen to take the precaution dose as the regulations in those countries demand that the last vaccine dose be taken by the travellers in the 6-9 month period. At the same time, there are others who believe that Omicron has been mild and there first 2 doses give them protection from severe diseases and hence a 3rd dose may not be necessary for them.
To better understand the pulse of the public, LocalCircles has conducted a survey on what should be India’s approach on COVID precaution or booster dose at this time. It also sought to know from citizens if the Government were to permit mixing and matching of vaccines, would they be interested in taking a different COVID vaccine as a booster. The survey received more than 19,500 responses from residents across 333 districts of India. 67% respondents were men while 33% respondents were women. 44% respondents were from tier 1, 34% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
55% citizens in favour of Government expanding the COVID precaution or booster dose program to include all adults
The first question in the survey asked citizens, “At this junction, what should India do with its precaution or booster dose for COVID program?” In response, 31% said “Maintain status quo (only available for health workers, senior citizens, etc.)”, and 14% said “Suspend it for the time being”. The majority, 55% of citizens said “Expand it to include all adults”, or are in favour of Government expanding the COVID precaution or booster dose program to include all adults. This question in the survey received 9,770 responses. With the experience of Omicron and the fact that cases are at an all time low, many Indians feel that COVID precaution or booster dose is no longer needed at the current time.
Assuming Government opens booster for all adults, of those planning to take the precaution or booster dose in coming months; 1 in 2 Indians keen to take different vaccine than their first 2 doses
The following question asked citizens, “Assuming you are eligible to take the COVID precaution or booster dose, if the Government were to permit mixing and matching of vaccines, would you be interested in taking a different COVID vaccine as a booster?” In response, the majority, 50% of citizens said “Yes, would take a different vaccine brand than what I have taken the 1st and 2nd doses of” while 41% said “No, would rather stick to the one I have taken the 1st and 2nd dose of”. 9% did not have an opinion. The findings indicate that of the people who wish to take the precaution dose if made eligible, 1 in 2 are keen to take a different vaccine dose than their first 2 doses.
In summary, 55% of respondents want the Government to expand the eligibility criteria for precaution dose to include all adults while 31% of citizens surveyed believe that status quo should be maintained and it need not be expanded to all adults. 14% of respondents were of the opinion that the precaution dose program must be suspended. This could be mainly because the COVID cases are declining sharply and Omicron did not cause severe disease in a large majority of the population. Of those who are planning to get vaccinated with the precaution dose if the Government expands eligibility criteria, 1 in 2 Indians are keen to take a different vaccine dose than their first 2 doses. This indicates that if the Government were to permit mix and match of vaccines for the precaution dose, there are takers readily available.
LocalCircles will share the findings of the survey with Government stakeholders so the inputs of public can be referenced to as they plan the way forward for the COVID vaccination program in India.
19,500 responses from residents across 333 districts of India. 67% respondents were men while 33% respondents were women. 44% respondents were from tier 1, 34% from tier 2 and 22% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.