Updated: May 10, 2021 1:04:52 pm
Confusion and chaos over Covid vaccination in Pune continues as citizens struggle to get inoculated with problems in scheduling appointments to standing in long queues for hours.
The vaccination drive in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been irregular from May 1 after the Union government declared all above 18 years of age eligible for the vaccine.
The irregular and short supply of vaccine doses has impacted the entire vaccination drive and to add to this is interference of the local elected representatives at the vaccination centres.
The number of vaccination centres have reduced from May 1 after the government decided to not to provide free vaccine doses to the private hospitals. Thus, the PMC has been vaccinating citizens in phases and has set up 111 government centres. It was providing doses to over 50 private hospitals till April 30 but after government directions it has been completely stopped.
“The number of vaccination centres has reduced after the private hospitals were kept out of it from May 1. This despite the fact that the number of eligible beneficiaries for doses have increased exponentially due to eligibility criteria brought down from 45 years to 18 years,” said a civic officer. “The supply of vaccines has been irregular,” he added.
The PMC has received over 20,000 doses a few times in the last 10 days which led to closure of some centres during the same time. When there are adequate doses available for the day then each centre gets a maximum of 150 doses of vaccine on the condition that 80 per cent of them would be for administering the second dose and remaining 20 per cent as the first dose for all above 45 years.
The PMC has started only six centres across the city for inoculating eligible citizens between the age of 18 years and 45 years.
Further, the elected representatives were putting pressure to start vaccination centres in their electoral ward to claim credit of ensuring vaccination to voters of their ward. “The supporters of the local corporator are deputed at the vaccination centres and they interfere in the process of vaccination. They get their closed ones inoculated without an appointment and it leads to shortage of doses for those given appointments for it,” said Suresh Nikam, a resident of Sinhagad Road.
He said the citizens despite having appointments are sent back and asked to come after a few days to get their jab. “It is frustrating to stand in a queue for long despite getting an appointment and later being sent back citing shortage of doses,” Nikam said.
BJP corporator Manjushree Khardekar had to recently approach the civic administration when a senior citizen couple informed that they were sent back from the centre citing shortage of doses despite scheduling appointments and by the time they reached home a message was delivered that they were administered the vaccine dose.
“The couple had contacted me and I reached out to the civic administration. They helped the couple get inoculated soon as the Co-WIN mobile application had declared that they were given the dose and it was not possible for them to again schedule an appointment,” she said.
Abhishek Jadhav, 22, said that the entire process of scheduling appointments for vaccination is suspicious. “The appointments are booked at all centers within seconds of scheduled time. We are unable to book appointments as they are already booked,” he said.
Some supporters of local corporators deputed at the centre were found taking contact number of citizens while assuring them vaccination in next few days. “It seems scheduling appointments on Co-WIN is of no use. The registration with the local corporator matters as they ensure the vaccine for those registered with them or common citizens relying on Co-WIN have to make rounds to get inoculated,” said another resident Ravi Joshi.
The civic administration is tight-lipped on the problems being faced by citizens. “We are not aware of the problems but would oppose it if there is any interference of elected representatives in the process of vaccination,” said a civic officer.
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