Updated: May 2, 2021 1:13:48 am
Vaccination for people in the age group of 18 to 44 years began Saturday across 10 districts of Gujarat that have been witnessing the maximum surge in coronavirus cases. The state government, in an official statement, said it has achieved 92 per cent of their target set for the first day of the phase three of the drive by inoculating 55,235 of the total 60,000 beneficiaries.
Gujarat is among the nine states across India that has begun vaccinating people in the new age group on May 1. A total of 80,000 doses were administered across these nine states.
On Saturday, the drive was launched at Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Kutch, Mehsana, Bharuch and Gandhinagar districts, which have together reported 11,158 cases on Saturday that is 80 per cent of the day’s caseload in the state. The state recorded 13,847 Covid-19 cases and 172 fatalities on the day. The 10 districts, so far, have reported 4.62 lakh cases, a bulk of which were recorded in April itself.
According to officials, the state government is in touch with the two vaccine makers — Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India — to get more vaccine doses. The drive, they said, will be rolled out in more districts as per the availability of doses.
In Ahmedabad, where the municipal corporation (AMC) has set up 80 vaccination centres for vaccinating people in 18-plus age group, minor glitches were reported at some sites. At one of the centres, set up at Maharaja Agrasen School under the Thaltej ward jurisdiction, a technical error left at least a score of beneficiaries at the receiving end.
Henil Shah, 34, who had come to the Thaltej site from Sabarmati, said while he had received an SMS confirming the school as his inoculation centre, the vaccination staffers at the facility said otherwise. Sans a record on the official CoWIN portal, the officials declined to give him the jab. When Henil insisted: “Why can’t you administer the dose when I am showing you (the message) my appointment”, the authorities maintained it was not permissible and the glitch could only be fixed by higher authorities — either by the Centre which handles the CoWIN application or the state authorities — once they escalated the matter.
For this age group, the state authorities have restricted walk-ins or on-the-spot registrations that has been otherwise allowed for other age groups and priority groups of healthcare and frontline workers. Only those who have registered themselves are allowed entry at vaccination sites, issued tokens on the basis of text messages received by them specifying the date, place and time for vaccination, officials said.
Despite several calls to corporators, officials and other “contacts”, Henil had to leave the site without the jab after a 2-hour wait at 1 pm. “There is no appointment available for the coming week, as is being shown in my application,” Henil said even as the Thaltej urban health centre officials, who were handling the logistics at the site, assured that he would be informed once the glitch was fixed.
Rutuja Veera, who had booked her appointment for the same site, too, faced a similar issue. “My in-laws are in Hong Kong, and I want to get done with my two doses as soon as possible so that I can travel there. The application no longer shows this site and all other sites that are being shown, are for inoculating those aged 45 years and above,” she said.
While Rushina Patel, the BJP corporator from Thaltej ward, tried to pacify frustrated beneficiaries, an emergency virtual meeting was called by the AMC medical officer (health), Bhavin Solanki, to apprise health officers on how to deal with such glitches at vaccination sites. Till Saturday evening, the site had administered 188 doses, as per the data available on CoWIN dashboard.
A total of 13,289 doses were administered to people between 18 and 44 years in the centres under the AMC. Overall, Ahmedabad city administered a total of 32,037 doses on Saturday, including healthcare workers, frontline workers, senior citizens and those aged between 45 and 60 years.
In Saurashtra-Kutch region, Jamnagar and Kutch met 91.46 per cent and 91.5 per cent of the vaccination target respectively. Rajkot, which met 77 per cent target for the day, vaccinated the maximum number of people in absolute terms among the four districts. In Bhavnagar, the response was a bit tepid with only 1,482 persons (or 74 per cent) turning up for the jab against the set target of 2,000.
In Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) area, the civic body had set up 46 sessions sites and 9,600 persons had booked slots for the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Of them, 7,698 turned up and were inoculated. “There was heavy rush, especially in the morning, and we saw people in the all the sub-age-groups turning up to get themselves vaccinated. While in terms of percentage, ours could be lower as compared to a few other districts but we had set an ambitious target on the opening day and managed to administer vaccine to a large number of people,” Dr Lalit Vanja, the medical officer (health) of RMC told The Sunday Express.
Dr Vanja said that 700 medical and paramedical staff recruited after the outbreak of Covid-19 and 650 regular staff of doctors and paramedics have been working all days of week to man the vaccination session sites. “The encouraging part of the drive is that we are setting 50 session sites for tomorrow and all the 5,000 spots were booked within 10 minutes after they became available on the portal,” Dr Vanja added.
“We fell marginally short of achieving the target as some people had booked slots in towns other than ones in which they are living in. For example, some residents of Bhuj had booked slots for vaccination in Gandhidham but did not turn up at the appointed hours. But overall response was good, especially people in the age group of 21 to 30 and women seemed enthusiastic about getting themselves immunised against Covid-19,” said Dr Dipak Kannar, chief district health officer of Kutch.
In Surat city, a total of 8749 people between 18 years to 45 years were vaccinated in all eight zones. Apart from this, 1,905 people above 45 years got their first dose of vaccination, and 3,087 people above 45 years got a second dose. On Saturday, a total of 15,374 people were vaccinated in Surat city.
In Bharuch, health officials had made arrangements at 10 sites. The district’s health officer D S Dhulera said, “In Bharuch district, we have vaccinated 2,000 people between 18 and 45 years who were registered, while 4,500 people above 45 years have also been vaccinated.”
Vadodara, meanwhile, held vaccination at 76 centres. While around 140 people were to be vaccinated at each of the designated centres, technical glitches pulled the numbers down at several sites. At one centre in a private school in Karelibaug, beneficiaries allegedly turned impatient when registration details did not reflect on the official software. Later, a police team had to be called in to manage the crowd at the site.
Fewer tests, meanwhile, were done across the state, from 1.60 lakh recorded on April 30 to 1.50 lakh on Saturday, officials said.
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