April 6, 2021 2:20:43 am
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expand the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive by allowing schools and community centres to be used as vaccination sites, apart from the existing healthcare facilities.
Starting Tuesday, 68 vaccination centres across 34 Delhi government hospitals will be open round the clock. “In order to accelerate the pace of Covid vaccination, it has been decided that timings of functioning of Covid vaccination centres should be further increased,” said the state health department in an order.
Currently, vaccination centres in Delhi function from 9 am to 9 pm. “1/3rd of vaccination sites in all Delhi government hospitals will also function from 9 pm to 9 am. All the facilities will ensure deployment of adequate manpower at these sites to ensure smooth functioning of the vaccination sites,” the order further stated.
In a letter to the PM, Kejriwal requested that the vaccine should be made available to people across age groups, except those who are medically barred from getting the shots. Doing so would ensure that all of Delhi gets vaccinated within three months, Kejriwal said.
This is the second time in a week that Kejriwal has advocated the need to relax the restrictions. His reiteration comes in the wake of a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in the national capital, pushing up the city’s active caseload to 14,589.
In his letter, Kejriwal referred to the spike, which has been categorised by the Delhi government as the “fourth wave” of the coronavirus in the city. “This has presented new concerns and challenges, particularly to the vaccination campaign. The rapid spread of infection between immunisation campaigns in this way suggests that we must move the vaccination campaign forward in a more swift manner,” the CM wrote.
Both Kejriwal and Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia have been maintaining that vaccination was the only way to tackle the surge, ruling out the possibility of a fresh lockdown, the previous rounds of which severely affected the economy and rendered thousands jobless.
“If rules for opening new centres are simplified and everyone is allowed to be vaccinated irrespective of age, then the Delhi government can vaccinate all Delhi residents within three months,” Kejriwal said, acknowledging the “support of the Centre at every step” in Delhi’s fight against Covid.
The AAP chief said the rate of vaccination can be enhanced by allowing vaccination centres at schools, community centres, and other places: “According to the instructions of the central government, vaccination centres can only be set up in hospitals or dispensaries. Initially, this was done to ensure that if someone had an adverse reaction to the vaccine, they could be treated immediately in the hospital. The vaccination drive in the last three months has shown that the vaccine is safe. It is, therefore, requested that this condition be removed so that large-scale vaccination centres can be built in.”
“Secondly, it should be made available to everyone by removing the age limit. Except for those who cannot get vaccinated medically, we should start vaccinating everyone. This will remove the hesitation among people and increase the number of people getting vaccinated. The more people get vaccinated, the more we will be able to reduce the spread of the disease,” he added.
Delhi witnessed the first wave of the pandemic in June, 2020. The second wave occurred in August-September and the third in October-November. The daily caseload in the city peaked on November 10 when the virus infected 8,600 individuals, while November 19 saw 131 deaths, the highest single-day toll.
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