Updated: March 19, 2021 9:59:58 pm
With the capacity to vaccinate 1,000 people a day, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has set up a vaccination centre close to the slum pockets of Dharavi.
The centre with five booths has been set up at an urban health centre, popularly known as “Chhota Sion Hospital”, to inoculate senior citizens and those aged above 45 years with comorbidities from Dharavi. Currently, the closest government-run centre for Dharavi residents is the Bandra-Kurla-Complex jumbo facility.
“The vaccination centre will start commissioning on Monday. The idea is to bring a vaccination centre close to the Dharavi residents,” said Kiran Dighavkar, G/north assistant municipal commissioner. As per the BMC’s data, of 6.5 lakh residents of Dharavi, 1.7 lakhs are senior citizens.
Civic officials said the number of people taking the vaccine from slum pockets across the city is less than desirable. At present, vaccination turnout is largely limited to middle and higher-income groups. Slum turnout has been low due to poor awareness, lack of time for slum dwellers to wait in queue and vaccine hesitancy in some pockets.
With a vaccination centre near the slum pockets, the civic body aims to increase the number of people willing to register for the jabs. “Many from the slums have cited the issue of spending long hours at vaccination centres that leads to loss of wages as the primary reason for not going for inoculation. Others have complained about app-based registration process,” said a civic official.
Dharavi on Friday recorded 29 new coronavirus cases. On Thursday, the count of fresh cases was 30, the highest daily spike since September. The number of daily cases remained below 30 after September, with zero new cases in December. The total active cases in the slum-dominated area are 72.
From Monday, an NGO, in collaboration with the BMC, will also begin vaccination awareness in slums to increase the inoculation turnout. “We plan to start the awareness programme in Dharavi and then expand to all slum pockets in the city,” said Jitendra Sahukar from the Pune-headquartered Bharatiya Jain Sangathana (BJS).
The BJS, which previously had worked in terms of contact tracing for the BMC, has tied up with the civic body, Thane Municipal Corporation, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and the Pune Municipal Corporation to help the government run vaccination centres effectively. It will also follow up with beneficiaries on post-vaccination.
The BJS plans to target the slum population, hold mass campaigns and counsel people to allay their vaccination fear. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said the NGO will work pro-bono for the vaccination drive.
Currently, there are 91 Covid vaccination centres in Mumbai. Of them, 24 are run by the BMC, eight by the state and the Centre, while 59 are run by private hospitals. The BMC added another centre at Ghatkopar’s Ramabai Thackeray Maternity Home on Friday. The civic body is awaiting approval from the Centre to add 29 more private hospitals as the Covid vaccination centres. Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal on Friday said the civic body is following up with the Central government on the approval.
The BMC on Friday decided to run evening shifts at its own vaccination centres and has changed the timing to 9 am-9 pm and directed the private hospitals to change the timings as well.
In view of increased daily cases in Mumbai, Chahal on Friday held a meeting with the four additional municipal commissioners, joint and deputy municipal commissioners, assistant municipal commissioners and superintendents and heads of hospitals. He directed the officials to ensure vaccinating 45 lakh people, including 1,000 per day at private hospitals, in 45 days.
Chahal directed the centres to take the assistance of local NGOs, charitable organisations and corporators to encourage eligible people for vaccination. “Adequate space, drinking water, tea-coffee and seating arrangements should be provided. Separate rooms should be set up for the beneficiaries,” he added.
As against the civic body’s daily target of one lakh inoculations per day, the number of vaccine beneficiaries across three groups – healthcare workers, frontline workers and individuals above the age of 45 – has barely crossed 45,000 to date.
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