Updated: May 10, 2021 10:50:34 pm
CONFUSION OVER the Covid-19 vaccination continues in Pune as people struggle to get inoculated with issues ranging from scheduling appointments to standing in long queues for hours.
The vaccination drive in the PMC (Pune Municipal Corporation) areas has been irregular since May 1 when the Centre declared vaccination open for the age group of 18 to 44.
Erratic and short supply of vaccine doses have impacted the entire vaccination drive, notwithstanding interference from local elected representatives at vaccination centres.
The number of vaccination centres have reduced from May 1 after the government decided not to provide free doses to private hospitals. Thus, the PMC has been vaccinating people in phases and has set up 111 government centres. The civic body was providing doses to over 50 private hospitals till April 30, but stopped completely after government directions.
“The number of vaccination centres have reduced after private hospitals were kept out of it from May 1. This despite the fact that the number of eligible beneficiaries has increased exponentially due to the eligibility criteria being brought down from 45 years to 18 years,” said a civic officer.
The officer said vaccine supply was irregular, and that the PMC had received over 20,000 doses a few times in the last 10 days, which led to centres being closed on most days. When adequate doses were available for the day, each centre got a maximum of 150 on the condition that 80 per cent would be used for administering the second dose and the remaining 20 per cent as the first dose for all aged above 45, the officer added.
The PMC has started only six centres across the city for inoculating beneficiaries aged between 18 and 44. Further, elected representatives were also putting pressure to start vaccination centres in their wards.
“Supporters of the local corporator are deputed at vaccination centres and they interfere in the process. They get their known people inoculated without an appointment and it leads to shortage for those who have an appointment,” said Suresh Nikam, a resident of Sinhagad Road.
He said beneficiaries, despite having appointments, were sent back and asked to come again after a few days to get their jab. “It is frustrating to stand in a queue for long despite an appointment and then being asked to return due to shortage of doses,” he added.
Manjushree Khardekar, BJP corporator, had to recently approach the civic administration when a senior citizen couple said they were asked to return from the centre due to shortage of doses despite scheduling appointments. By the time they reached home, they got a message that they had been administered the vaccine.
“The couple contacted me and I reached out to the civic administration. They helped the couple get inoculated soon as the CoWIN mobile application had declared that they were given the dose and it was not possible for them to schedule an appointment again,” she said.
A 22-year-old man, Abhishek Jadhav, said the entire process of scheduling appointments was suspect. “It has been noticed that the appointments at centres are all booked up within seconds of the scheduled time for booking,” he said.
Some supporters of local corporators deputed at the centre were found taking the contact number of beneficiaries while assuring them that they would be vaccinated in the next few days. “It seems scheduling an appointment on CoWIN is of no use. Registration with the local corporator matters,” said another resident Ravi Joshi.
The civic administration is tightlipped on these issues. “We are not aware of the problems but would oppose if there is any interference of elected representatives in the process of vaccination,” said a civic officer.
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