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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Mumbai: Lack of Covaxin, cancelled slots plague vaccine drive

Citizens complained that some centres refused to accept online appointments, while others turned them down, citing unavailability of stock.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
May 11, 2021 3:18:51 am
Citizens in the 18-44 years age group being vaccinated in Thane. (Photo: Deepak Joshi)

CANCELLATION OF confirmed appointments, unavailability of second dose of Covaxin, and lack of coordination between vaccination centres and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) marked the vaccination drive in Mumbai on Monday.

Citizens complained that some centres refused to accept online appointments, while others turned them down, citing unavailability of stock.

Following criticism, BMC said that slots for appointment will open every day at 9pm. However, the civic body was criticised for making the announcement late at night, and through its Twitter handle.

Out of the total 190 vaccination centres in the city, 105 were functional on Monday. However, the centres did not administer Covaxin for the second consecutive day, causing worry among several senior citizens.

Sandeep Shelar, who has been trying to get the second dose of Covaxin for his senior-citizen parents for the past one week, said, “The whole idea of having a vaccination centre in every locality is that citizens don’t have to travel a long distance to merely scout for a dose. It has been seven weeks since my parents received the first dose of Covaxin. I have been trying for weeks now at multiple centres, but Covaxin is not available. My parents have diabetes, among other health-related issues, I don’t want to make them go from one centre to another. Why did BMC start administering Covaxin to the 18 to 44 age group, if the stock was not sufficient?”

Like Shelar, several citizens expressed anger and frustration at not being able to take their second jab even weeks after receiving their first shot. Many senior citizens said the administration should prioritise vaccination of people due for a second dose and pause the drive for the under-45 age group until the vaccine supply is streamlined.

While Covishield’s second dose can be taken from six to eight weeks of the first shot, experts said Covaxin cannot be delayed beyond 28 days. State authorities said they have been pressing the Centre to supply more doses of Covaxin.

JJ Hospital’s in-charge Dr Lalit Sankhe said a person should try and take the second dose on the 29th day after the first dose.

Amidst technical glitches and the absence of assistance from the BMC, corporators were seen helping senior citizens and others without the know-how of using the CoWIN application in getting appointments.

Amid rising Covid-19 cases and pressure to encourage vaccination among slum dwellers in Dharavi, health care volunteers began door-to-door counselling. On March 22, the BMC opened a vaccination centre at Chhota Sion Hospital, an urban health centre, to facilitate residents in the area. After an initial tepid response, vaccination picked up with most recipients availing of the walk-in facility. However, following the mandatory appointment rule by BMC last week, the response in Dharavi has dropped. To improve the vaccination numbers in the area, three organisations led by locals are helping citizens register and book appointments at the nearest centre. Many centres administering Covishield had run out of the vaccine stock by Monday afternoon, causing on-spot cancellation of appointments. Citizens also complained about the token system being practised at few centres despite the discontinuation of the walk-in facility.

On May 6, following crowding and chaos at the vaccination centres, the BMC discontinued walk-in vaccination and only those who booked their appointments on the CoWIN app were allowed to get a jab. However, an exception was made for healthcare and frontline workers and those aged above 45 and due for the second dose of Covaxin.

On Monday, Covid-19 vaccine was administered to 31,043 citizens, including 4,837 in 18 to 44 age group.

Till now, 20.67 lakh have received the first dose while 6.6 lakh received both the doses in Mumbai.

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