Updated: May 11, 2021 10:36:36 pm
Pavanjit Mane was not prepared for the hostility when he went for his Covid-19 vaccination last week. Mane, a software professional, was unable to get a slot near his home in Baner so he had booked a slot in the nearby Pirangut area.
“When we went to the rural primary healthcare centre, we were conspicuous due to our clothes. While we were waiting for the jabs, some local residents started expressing their displeasure at what they called appropriation of their vaccine,” he said.
Global supply constraints and an unforseen second wave have sent India’s vaccination programme into rough weather. The problems have been aggravated since vaccination was opened for every adult in the country and many people have been unable to book vaccination slots.
Many multinational companies, especially those in the financial technology sector, have mandated compulsory vaccination. Difficulty in getting vaccine appointments in city areas has compelled lots of people to take appointments in nearby rural hospitals or health centres.
But residents of these areas are upset because they feel their share of vaccines is being “appropriated” by city residents.
Mane has not been the only one to face hostility when he went to a rural health centre to get his jab. Many of his friends and colleagues in the IT sector, he said, have had similar experiences. “…we are helpless as we are not able to get slots in the city, so we are driving long distances for the vaccines…I fear there will be a law and order situation soon over this,” he said.
Pune Zilla Parishad CEO Ayush Prasad acknowledged this problem and said they wrote to the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Police Commissioners about these concerns last week. The Inspector-General of Police has also been briefed about the matter, he said. “We have also undertaken a sensitisation drive among rural youths and made it clear to everyone that as per the Constitution of India, anyone can seek healthcare, including vaccination, anywhere in the country,” he said.
In some places, localised solutions like informing residents when vaccination slots are open, are being implemented, Prasad added.
According to sources in the Pune Zilla Parishad, the possibility that a law and order situation could arise of of this situation has been brought to the notice of senior state government officials.
Meanwhile, Asha Buchake, Zilla Parishad member from Junnar, defended the opposition by local residents to people from urban areas booking vaccination slots in rural healthcare centres.
On a daily basis, the taluka gets at least 200 doses and for rural residents, navigating the labyrinth of online registration is a tough nut to crack, she said. “Ours is a mostly agricultural population, so they are unable to get the registration done on time and almost all slots are taken up by outsiders,” she said.
For want of slots, many residents of rural areas have been unable to take their second dose, she added. The problem is of a much higher magnitude than it appears because on paper, the vaccination drive is being carried out as per schedule, she said. “However, the local population is being deprived of doses,” she added.
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