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Phase 2 of Covid vaccination drive: Punjab’s poor show continues, just 1,100 vaccinated on Day 1, Co-WIN app marred with glitches

At least 25-30 lakh persons are estimated to be the eligible beneficiaries in Punjab in third phase for 60+ and 45-59 years (with comorbidities) categories. 

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana |
Updated: March 2, 2021 10:26:06 am
COVID-19 vaccine, VP Singh BadnoreGovernor of Punjab and UT Administrator VP Singh Badnore takes first dose of Covid-19 vaccination at the Sector 7 Dispensary, in Chandigarh, on Monday. Express Photo

Punjab again performed poorly in the second phase of the Covid-19 vaccination drive that started Monday. Just 1,127 people including senior citizens (60 years and above) and others aged 45-59 years with co-morbidities were vaccinated in the state on the inaugural day. The day was also marked with several glitches and technical issues in the Co-WIN 2.0 portal of the Union Health Ministry, on which the beneficiaries can pre-register to get the jab.

However, senior Punjab health officials said many private hospitals failed to “create sessions” on the portal due to which the new phase could not start on day one. Also, many hospitals failed to make online payments for the vaccine doses due to glitches in the app.

Not even half of all frontline, healthcare workers immunised

Punjab has recorded one of the lowest numbers among the states across the country, for the first phase of the vaccination drive, which was meant for healthcare workers and frontline workers (police, MC employees, defence personnel etc). In both the categories, it has not even achieved 50 per cent of its target, till Monday. The state has managed to vaccinate just 43 per cent of its registered healthcare workers till now (89,376 of 2.05 lakh) and just 39 per cent of registered frontine workers (70,605 of 1.80 lakh). While the vaccination drive for healthcare workers had started on January 16, the one for frontline workers had started on February 2.

On Monday, the drive was opened for people aged 60 or above or 45-59 years with co-morbidities listed by the Union health ministry. While the vaccination is free in government hospitals, beneficiaries have to pay Rs 250 per dose in private hospitals (Rs 150 is vaccination cost while private hospitals cannot charge more than Rs 100 for the services). Beneficiaries can either pre-register for the session on Co-WIN or opt for on the spot registration and walk-in to get the jab. At least 25-30 lakh persons are estimated to be the eligible beneficiaries in Punjab in third phase for 60+ and 45-59 years (with comorbidities) categories.

‘Vaccine hesitancy’ main reason for poor show: Covid nodal officer

Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, nodal officer, Covid-19, Punjab, said that ‘vaccine hesitancy’ continues to be the reason for the poor show in Punjab even as ‘several efforts’ have been made to encourage healthcare workers, frontline workers and now the senior citizens, to get themselves vaccinated.

“We have conducted several awareness drives and all senior health, police, MC and other officials got themselves vaccinated to encourage staff to get the vaccine. But we are yet to achieve 50 per cent target for healthcare and frontline workers. For the first day of vaccination today for senior citizens and 45-59 years age group with comorbidities, nearly 1,100 could be vaccinated as there were several issues in Co-WIN app and many private hospitals could not conduct sessions. There was also an issue in online monetary transactions and hospitals failed to transfer money to the health ministry for the vaccines. While we supply vaccine doses to the private hospitals, they have to transfer the money directly to the union ministry,” said Dr Bhaskar.

As per the detailed data which was available till filing of this report (for day one of the phase 2), of total 1,127 beneficiaries who were vaccinated, 970 were aged 60 or more and the rest 157 were from 45-59 years age group with comorbidities. As per the district wise break up, Ludhiana performed the best on day 1 with 479 beneficiaries vaccinated, followed by Amritsar (86), Hoshiarpur (106) and Mohali (83).

Other districts recorded poor response while some districts could not even upload their data due to glitches in the portal.

“We have 605 private hospitals in Punjab but many could not begin sessions today due to glitches in the portal. They have to ‘create a session’ on the portal and only then beneficiaries can register themselves when it will start reflecting on the portal. Process will streamline from tomorrow as today was the first day,” said Dr Bhaskar. Asked if the state plans to provide any home vaccination facility for senior citizens, Dr Bhaskar said, “There is no such plan as of now. Beneficiaries have to report to the hospitals to get the vaccination done..”

Meanwhile, COVID spike in Punjab continued as the state recorded 635 new cases and 18 more deaths, as per Monday’s bulletin. Maximum active cases are in districts Nawanshahr (696), Mohali (636), Ludhiana (564) and Jalandhar (530).

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