May 2, 2021 1:51:35 am
FILLED WITH visible exuberance of getting an appointment and some frayed nerves, over 900 people in the 18-44 age group were vaccinated in Mumbai on Saturday, as the city extended the Covid-19 immunisation drive to a larger and younger population. While according to BMC, 992 people were administered jabs, the state government said 1,004 were vaccinated.
With 20,000 vaccine doses in its kitty, the BMC started administering vaccines to the 18 to 44 age group from Saturday at five civic-run centres. Each of the five centres was given 4,000 doses late Friday. For Sunday, BMC has increased the target to vaccinate 2,500 people – 500 at each of the five centres from 9 am to 5 pm.
Rina Chhadwa, a Malad resident who managed to book slots for herself and her husband, said, “I booked the appointment at 1.45 am… it was pure luck. I was allotted the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) centre, while my husband is taking his jab at Rajawadi hospital. Long waiting periods were not witnessed at BKC. Only those who had received messages for appointment were allowed to enter the premises.” Khar resident Akshat Thakker was among the first batch of 10 people to receive his shot at the BKC centre. “I was refreshing the CoWin application every two seconds continuously for two hours last night. I managed to book an appointment around 2 am. My mother got an appointment at the Seven Hills hospital.”
In a late night plan, the BMC had decided to vaccinate 1,000 people in the 18 to 44 age group at BKC vaccination centre, Rajawadi hospital, Nair hospital, R N Cooper Hospital and Seven Hills hospital on Saturday. A notice board stating that no shots would be administered without an appointment and helpline numbers were put up outside the five centres.
With assistance from the Mumbai Police, those with prior appointment were only allowed to enter the centres. They were given token numbers and directed to vaccination booths by volunteers. Walk-ins at the centre will not be allowed, the civic body had said. Within minutes of opening appointment slots on CoWin for Sunday, all slots were booked. “Inoculating 1,000 people in a day is an extremely small number for a metropolis like Mumbai. BMC should open more time slots,” said Andheri resident Shrikant Dixit, who could not book an appointment on Friday night.
Many people who have registered on the CoWin app but did not receive appointments were seen visitng BKC centre, Rajwadi hospital and Cooper hospital.
Dr Swapnil from Cooper hospital said, “From 1 pm to 3 pm, 130 people in the 18 to 44 age group turned up. We had set a target of vaccinating 200 people today and cannot allow those without prior appointments to get jabs.” Rakesh Waghela, who had come to Cooper hospital with his wife, said, “I have been trying to book a slot since Friday night without any luck. I have been checking the application since registration opened but to no avail.” The BMC on Saturday appealed to people not to crowd vaccination centres, as only those who have received an appointment, including time slots, will be administered vaccines.
In an appeal, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar said: “We have started vaccinating the 18 to 44 age group. I would request the youngsters to donate blood before getting the shots. As no walk-in is allowed, I appeal to the people to not unnecessarily crowd vaccination centres.”
While vaccination for the 18 to 44 age group will continue on Sunday, vaccination drive for those above 45 years of age remains suspended in the city due to shortage of jabs.
A few senior citizens also turned up at vaccination centres on Saturday demanding their second dose. “It has been over six weeks since I got my first dose. I have tried two centres but I am not getting a satisfactory reply about vaccine availability,” said Sandhya Tiwari while waiting at Rajawadi hospital.
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