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Monday, May 10, 2021

In Gujarat, districts point to ‘Covid-19 vaccine shortage’

From vaccinating over 5 lakh on April 3, Gujarat saw only 1.19 lakh getting the shot on April 6 and nearly 2.95 lakh receiving the dose on April 8. Districts that The Indian Express spoke to confirmed “shortage of supply” as one of the reasons.

Written by Sohini Ghosh , Kamaal Saiyed | Ahmedabad |
April 10, 2021 9:00:29 am
Gujarat Covid vaccination, Gujarat COVID-19 cases, Covid-19 vaccine, Gujarat vacciantion status, Ahmedabad coronavirus vaccine, Surat COVID-19 vaccine, gujarat news, indian expressA policeman receives a dose of COVISHIELD, a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, at a vaccination centre in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. (PTI Photo)

EVEN AS Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel has asserted that the state got a stock of 15 lakh vaccines from the Centre on April 7, the state’s vaccination pace has slowed down, with several district administrations admitting to a shortage of stock.

From vaccinating over 5 lakh on April 3, Gujarat saw only 1.19 lakh getting the shot on April 6 and nearly 2.95 lakh receiving the dose on April 8. Districts that The Indian Express spoke to confirmed “shortage of supply” as one of the reasons.

On April 7, Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC), which reports the second-highest number of cases in the state, also announced a break from its vaccination drive. Surat Municipal Commissioner B N Pani said that “due to a shortage of Covid-19 vaccine, fewer vaccinations were done on Wednesday (April 7).” As per CoWIN dashboard data, only 162 persons from Surat city received a dose that day. The stock was replenished on April 8, when the city managed to inoculate 24,382 persons.

The Deputy CM’s home district – Mehsana – where a robust pick-up in vaccinations was seen since April 1, with over 18,000 vaccinated on April 3, saw instead one-sixth covered on April 7 – 3,417 by the vaccine dose. A health official from the district, who did not wish to be named, admitted that “there was a slowdown in supply and we may see some days when we will have to keep vaccination closed,” adding “we have, however, covered a sufficient proportion of our targeted population.”

Chief district health officer at Mehsana Vishnu Patel said the April 7 “low numbers” of vaccination was owing to “Wednesday being a routine immunisation day.” However, he also added that there is a manpower constraint owing to Covid cases in the district. The CDHO said, “Our staff has been deployed for preventive measures in our district since cases are rising. Our priority is to prevent the rise. So we have had to reduce vaccination sessions so as to divert the manpower. We also received an additional stock of 20,000 vaccines.” Mehsana on April 8 reported 74 new cases and one fatality due to Covid. As per the state health department data, the district presently has over 509 active cases, undergoing Covid treatment.

Kutch too, which has been vaccinating 10,000 to 12,000 people on each day of April on an average, as per the chief district health officer J O Madhak, only 1,424 were vaccinated on April 7. While not commenting on the low target of April 7, Madhak on Thursday (April 8) said the district has 50,000 vaccines to sustain for the next five days.

In Valsad, where it has vaccinated upto 12,000 persons in a single day earlier this month, and otherwise too vaccinated anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people on most days, saw a low on April 7, managing to inoculate fewer than 2,000. As per district health officials, the break came owing to a shortage of stock of vaccines in Valsad district on April 7.

As per the district health department officials of Valsad, the vaccine stock reached on Thursday, following which the vaccination was carried out at different centres in Valsad district. Valsad district Health officer Dr. Manoj Patel said, “We are now getting the seamless flow of vaccines. With no vaccine, one day off for vaccination was kept on Wednesday. The average of vaccination in the district per day is around 9000 vaccination. ”

Similarly in Bharuch district, the district administrative officials had opened 265 vaccination centres at different places in the district. District collector M D Modiya said, “At an average per day, between 6000 to 7000 people are vaccinated and till date we have done vaccination of 1.36 lakh people. In the beginning the vaccination was slow but later we started new centres at different talukas.”

On Friday, at a press conference addressed by several Ahmedabad-based doctors who are part of the state Covid task force, when asked if vaccination should be opened up for those above 18 years, cardiologist Dr Tejas Patel cited that “supply chain” too has to be taken care of and that “government has certain level of production and that is how it has prioritised age groups.”

Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) Gandhinagar, director Dr Dileep Mavlankar too added that with the new mutated variants at play, apart from studying their genome by sequencing them, one also needs to look at those infected after vaccination to understand if indeed vaccination is working or not. Infectious disease specialist Dr Atul Patel told this paper at the sidelines of a press conference, that immune response to vaccine must be studied in detail. Dr Atul too is part of the COVID19 taskforce.

Paediatrician and executive director at International Pediatric Association, Dr Naveen Thacker, who was also a Steering Committee Member of Immunization Partners of Asia Pacific (IPAP) for the year 2017- 2019 says that keeping supply, demand and supply chain/logistics in mind, one has to go by epidemiology first and based on that prioritisation must take place. He adds that “some flexibility must be given to states to expand the category of frontline workers” to include the population who are at high exposure, such as vendors, restaurant workers etc, while also adding families of high-risk or high-exposure population as eligible vaccine beneficiary, given the recent surge seeing a trend of family clusters of infection, a recommendation that has also been voiced in the state taskforce’s meeting with the government officials earlier. He adds, “India should have a long-term plan to immunise and should have a clear roadmap going ahead.”

Meanwhile, the Panchamahals district administration, on Friday, initiated a drive to increase the coverage of the ongoing vaccination drive in the district by sending medical teams according to election booths. District Collector Amit Arora said medical teams would set up vaccination tables booth-wise in order to ensure that more people in the age group of 45 and 60 come forth and take the jab.

The drive, initiated on Friday focused on Godhra and Halol talukas – where the response to the vaccine has been slower than the other talukas. Arora said, “The medical teams will take the kits, set up tables and administer the dose locally at the booth level. It will help us reach out to more people who are not willingly coming to the vaccination centres.”

The district administration, which had requested mosques in Godhra to announce the benefits of the Covid19 vaccine to encourage the reluctant Muslim community to consent to the vaccine, is beginning to find some response in the Godhra town dominated by the minority community, Arora said.

The district, which has 4,757 positive cases so far has seen a total vaccination of 43 per cent, Arora said.

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