With the Covid vaccination drive now open for those aged 18 and above, some over 45 who had got their first shot a month ago have said they are struggling to find slots for the second dose, particularly Covishield.
A 63-year-old who got his first Covishield vaccine dose in the second week of March at a private hospital in Noida said: “My wife and I are trying to get the second shot administered before the 8th week. However, most private hospitals in our area have stopped the vaccination process for those aged 45 and above as they don’t have Covishield. We are now trying to get a slot at a government centre but most are booked.”
His is not a one-off case.
At Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, the drive has been halted since May 1 as the institute has not received stock of vaccines. Sources at the hospital said over 12,500 people were inoculated at the hospital’s vaccination site between March 1 and April 30.
“Since the stock of Covishield vaccine has not arrived, we have stopped carrying out the vaccination drive. We have reached out to authorities and they are expected to give us an answer by this week. But there is still no surety,” said a senior official from the hospital, requesting anonymity.
A spokesperson from Fortis healthcare said: “Yes, the drive for 45 plus at our hospitals has been impacted as vaccine supply from government channels has been stopped and only limited stocks have been supplied by manufacturers. So far, we have received only 50,000 doses of Covaxin. We hope supplies are made available so we can increase vaccinations.”
Sources at Delhi government’s Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital also said the institute has not been able to expand the vaccination drive due to shortage of vaccines. “We were supposed to vaccinate 600 people in a day but we have not been able to offer the service at more sites till date. We are receiving 200 doses of Covishield every day and are accordingly vaccinating people,” said a senior doctor from the hospital.
The first phase of the vaccination drive across the country kicked off in January in which the vaccine was administered only to healthcare and frontline workers. In the second phase, those above the age of 60 and between the ages of 45 and 59 with co-morbid conditions were eligible. The third phase kicked off on April 1 with the Centre allowing states to vaccinate all people above the age of 45 years of age.
The ‘vaccination bulletin’ shared by the Delhi government on Monday states that a total of 43.20 lakh doses — 13.91 lakh Covaxin and 29.28 lakh Covishield — have been received till date for healthcare workers, frontline workers and those above 45 years. Of these, the state is left with 4.67 lakh doses.
Similarly, for those between 18 and 45 years, Delhi has received 5.50 lakh doses — 1.50 lakh Covaxin and 4 lakh Covishield — till date out of which 2.75 lakh have been utilised.
Dr Suneela Garg, member of the Lancet Commission Covid India Task force, said: “The situation remains the same for Delhi, Noida and Greater Noida. Those above 45 years have to go to government facilities to get the jab as free vaccination can only be provided through government centres. There are three segments — government facilities for 45 years and above, government schools for 18-44 years, and then we have these private hospitals like Max, Apollo and Fortis which are providing the vaccine.”
The drive for 45 years and above was free at government hospitals. Private hospitals were allowed to charge up to Rs 250 per dose. “Now, private sectors are directly interacting with manufacturers, unlike earlier when Covishield was provided to maximum number of hospitals by the government. But the situation cannot be carried for a longer period of time… We are now focussing on government facilities for those aged 45 and above. The situation will normalise around July,” she added.