July 26, 2021 7:51:04 pm
WHILE THE past 18 months have caused great emotional strain to expats, who did not have an option to travel or meet their loved ones in India due to the ongoing pandemic, 28-year-old Swagat Banerjee is grateful that at least he could cremate his mother (who died on June 6 due to post-dengue related complications) as per rituals. However, before Banerjee could return to Singapore, he needed his second dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
“This is where I encountered the humane side of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). I got my first vaccine shot on June 10 in Pune. While the stipulated 84-day period would have been too long a stay for me, the PMC initiative of free-of-cost vaccination for a specific group of students, professionals and sportspersons going abroad shows a rare level of foresight,” Banerjee told The Indian Express.
Banerjee, associate director (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), IHS Markit, said using CoWIN application, he booked a slot to get the first jab of Covishield and got the second dose on July 8. The special drive is being conducted at Kamla Nehru Hospital to ensure that this group does not face hurdles in travelling abroad due to lack of vaccination.
PMC health department officials said total 1,240 professionals and four sportspersons, who are in Tokyo for the Olympics, have been benefited from this drive. Overall 5,861 beneficiaries have availed of this special drive. Of them, 1,700 received the first dose and 4,163 got both the shots. Of these, 2918 are students, the civic officials added.
Banerjee, who tweeted about the PMC’s “invaluable support”, said CoWIN was more advanced than the applications he had used in Singapore. “I was vaccinated even earlier than my peers back there who were placed in a penultimate category, after vulnerable groups and local citizens. They were amazed to know this,” Banerjee, who now waits for Singapore to allow incoming flights from India, said.
Focus on vaccinating underprivileged: Additional municipal commissioner
Ravindra Binwade, additional municipal commissioner, PMC, said they were planning to accelerate the vaccination drive, especially for the underprivileged like daily wagers, transgenders and others who struggle with online registration.
“In the city, we have the capacity to vaccinate more than a lakh people daily but the supply of doses is insufficient. Local representatives are also keen on starting new vaccination centres so that more people can be covered,” he added.
Approximately 22 lakh vaccine doses have been administered in the city, of which around six lakh people are fully vaccinated. The civic body’s public-private initiative Vaccine on Wheels has reached out to over 51,000 beneficiaries, including the elderly at old age homes, domestic workers, physically challenged, construction labourers and hawkers among others.
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