The World Health Organization on Friday called for greater vaccination coverage among the older population in South East Asian region since they are vulnerable to the virus and face the “highest risk of severe diseases”, PTI reported.

The WHO categorises its members nations into six regions based on their geographical location. India falls in in the South East Asian region.

“By vaccinating the elderly population as part of high-risk groups, countries can effectively reduce deaths and hospitalisation,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO South-East Asia Region said in a statement.

Singh said that countries will have to make “concerted and “focused” efforts to improve the vaccination rate among the elderly population.

“Throughout the Covid-19 response, we must continue to protect and enhance the health and well-being of older people, including by ensuring that they have access to essential health services,” she said.

Singh said that an increased rate of vaccination will also help in reducing the disease burden and curb the impact on the health infrastructures.

Data from the government’s CoWIN platform showed that till Friday evening, nearly 15.93 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to those aged above 60. According to the National Statistical Office’s “Elderly in India 2021” report, 13.8 crore people in India are above 60 years of age, which means 27.6 crore doses of the vaccine would be needed to fully vaccinate all of them.