While urban areas of the state mostly ran a smooth vaccine trial on Friday, some rural and tribal regions reported connectivity issues with the Co-WIN software and possible difficulty in handling beneficiaries who suffer severe adverse effects after they are administered the Covid-19 vaccine later in the month.
Friday saw vaccination dry runs being held across the state, with 114 rural hospitals, primary health centres (PHC) and sub-district hospitals participating.
Dr Archana Patil, Director (Family Welfare) in the Directorate of Health Services (DHS), said that Maharashtra will approach the Centre with the recommendation to upload data of all beneficiaries offline during the actual immunisation process in remote areas, where there is no Internet connectivity.
“Or we could select centres where mobile range works,” she added. This is, however, possible only in case of healthcare workers who receive shots in the first phase of the vaccination drive and not when large scale immunisation starts, requiring more centres in every block.
In Gadchiroli, poor Internet connectivity remained a persistent issue in PHCs. “It took some time to access the Co-WIN software and the beneficiary list. We had selected centres with decent connectivity but even there, Internet was a challenge,” said Dr Shashikant Shambharkar, District Health Officer (DHO).
The Co-WIN software has been designed to monitor the Covid-19 vaccination programme across the country.
In Osmanabad, there was no Internet connection for half-an-hour at a PHC in Lohara block. “People will not stay for long in the waiting area if we delay immunisation. We need to devise ways to make the process fast,” said DHO Dr H V Wadgave.
Osmanabad has 8,000 healthcare workers registered for the first phase of immunisation. On Friday, the Lohara PHC conducted a mock exercise to refer a beneficiary, who suffered adverse effects after vaccination, to the nearest rural hospital. A doctor said it took half-an-hour for the 108 toll free ambulance to arrive at the PHC. “If it was a real case, the delay could have led to complications for the beneficiary,” the doctor added.
Wadgave said they are going to propose to the state that vaccination centres be set up close to secondary or tertiary care hospitals. In Mumbai, Pune, and other major urban cities, vaccination centres have been positioned in or around hospitals.
In Beed, Solapur, Nashik, Dhule, Ahmednagar and Pune, officials said that the dry runs were smooth. “We chose centres in Nashik, Pune, Ahmednagar and Dhule where Internet connectivity was good,” said Dr M R Pattanshetti, Deputy Director (DHS) in Nashik. In Solapur, DHO Dr Shitalkumar Jadhav said, “We were able to assess the time a beneficiary will require to register himself and get the shot. Each beneficiary took five to seven minutes for this.”
Ink those vaccinated, Govt tells Centre
State Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Friday said a recommendation has been made to the Union government to ink a finger of those vaccinated, just like during elections, to identify them. “If the Centre refuses, the state government can take a call on this,” he said. Tope said the Centre has also been requested to vaccinate the economically poor people for free.
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