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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Cloud over timely start of May 1 Covid vaccination drive in Mumbai

Officials, however, worry about the biggest constraint – doubling the number of healthcare workers for vaccination. The healthcare system in Mumbai is already strained with over 72,000 active Covid-19 cases.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
April 27, 2021 1:35:22 am
Cloud over timely start of May 1 Covid vaccination drive in MumbaiThe biggest challenge is to ensure adequate supplies. The corporation is standing by for a green light from the state government to procure its own vaccines from the open market. (Express Photo)

The world’s richest municipal corporation has begun preparing for the rollout of phase 3 of the anti-Covid vaccination drive for the 18 to 44 years age group, though it is unlikely to begin on May 1.

Dr Mangala Gomare, BMC Executive Health Officer, said that from 58, BMC will double government vaccination centres to over 110. “We plan to start a vaccination centre in every electoral ward. Discussions are on to start centres in community and marriage halls, municipal schools, industries with clinics or health posts,” she added.

Officials, however, worry about the biggest constraint – doubling the number of healthcare workers for vaccination. The healthcare system in Mumbai is already strained with over 72,000 active Covid-19 cases.

Gomare said the city has over 200 vaccination booths, with each having four to five support staffers, including security guard, data entry operator and vaccinator. If the number of centres are doubled, the staff requirement will shoot up from roughly 1,000 to 2,000.

The BMC on Monday said that all private hospitals will have to place independent orders for vaccines and ensure adequate storage and cold chain facilities, enough manpower to conduct immunisation and experts to deal with adverse events in their centres.

Until now, the civic body was distributing limited number of doses — enough for two to three days — to hospitals from a central storage facility in Parel.

The civic body also asked all private hospitals to apply for registration as vaccination centres. Those already registered will continue to function as vaccination centres.

The biggest challenge is to ensure adequate supplies. The corporation is standing by for a green light from the state government to procure its own vaccines from the open market. It is already in talks with the two domestic manufacturers, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, and is also preparing to issue global tenders for multinational brands.

“The central government has given a go-ahead to import vaccines. Based on what the Maharashtra government says, BMC is in a position to procure. We are waiting for clarity from the state on whether it will be able to supply so much of stock to us,” a top civic official said.

Dr Sheela Jagtap, immunisation officer in BMC, said while preparation for global tenders are underway, the process can take time.
As on Monday, Mumbai has 1.5 lakh vaccine doses, which will last till Wednesday. On Sunday, 94 vaccination centres were shut due to non-availability of vaccines. Senior BMC officials said guidelines from the Union government on the next phase of vaccination from May 1
drive came late, giving “very little time to prepare”.

In series of meetings on Monday and Tuesday, the civic body is working on a parallel plan of action to procure vaccines independently of the state government.

Mumbai has over 90 lakh people aged above 18 years. Of them, 52 lakh are in the 18 to 44 aged and 38 lakh above 45 years old.

While the Union government will provide vaccines for the above 45 years age group, the state and BMC will have to procure doses for the remaining 52 lakh people. Keeping 10 per cent vaccine wastage into account, the city will need 1.10 crore vaccines for the two doses to be administered to the 18 to 44 age group.

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