June 5, 2021 3:29:58 am
As Gujarat opened up Covid vaccination for the 18-44 age group across the state Friday, remote areas struggled due to Internet and power issues as compared to their urban counterparts. However, the state managed to administer 1.89 lakh doses against its target of 2.25 lakh, set by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani Thursday.
The expansion of vaccination to below 45 age group came a month after this had been started in seven municipal corporations, and Kutch, Bharuch and Mehsana districts.
Apart from the expected Net issues, the remote areas also saw low turnouts as the announcement came late Thursday, with many caught unawares. Rural centres near Ahmedabad, in fact, saw a large number of city dwellers, who came there after failing to find slots in the municipal corporation area.
Rupani has said ‘village computer entrepreneurs’ would help beneficiaries facing problems register on the Co-WIN platform, for an honorarium of Rs 5 per registration.
Anand Patel, 30, of Tapi’s Antapur village, which has no Internet, says he rushed to Vyara town at 6 am Friday to register. “I was lucky, and got a slot at 4 pm at the Community Health Centre. Now I will register my wife.”
Falguni Gamit, 30, of Katiskuva village in the district, who recently got married to a schoolteacher, says she and her husband rushed to their CHC on reading about the drive in the papers. “After getting Internet connectivity, my husband logged in, and we got a time slot between 3 pm and 6 pm… Our parents are afraid of getting vaccinated. Once we are vaccinated, they will also get a shot,” Gamit said.
A 45-year-old resident of Bopal under Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation said he had been trying to get his wife, 43, a shot since April, when he got vaccinated. On Thursday, finally, he got a slot at the Sanathal Primary Health Centre in rural Ahmedabad.
By 5 pm Friday, the Sanathal PHC had administered 177 of the targeted 200 doses, its medical officer Dr Kalpendrasinh Rajput said.
Tapi district health officer (DHO) Dr Harshad Patel said there are an estimated 3 lakh people in the 18-44 age group in the district, of whom 3,000-odd registered and 1,500 were vaccinated Friday. Patel said they expected a rush from Saturday. “Our health officials have also come across inquiries from the neighbouring villages in Maharashtra.”
Chief DHO of Dang Dr Dhansukh Gamit also hoped to see turnout improve over the weekend from Friday’s low of 295 of 1,000 people registered.
Valsad DHO Dr Manas Patel though tasted success. Having fought vaccine hesitancy, due mainly to superstition, district officials saw as many as 4,700 of the 5,000 registered turn up for doses. “We now hope that elders too will get vaccinated in the coming days,” Patel said.
Deputy CM Nitin Patel earlier in the day warned action under the Epidemic Diseases Act against those spreading misinformation or rumours regarding vaccines.
Officials also drew satisfaction from the response in the coastal districts of Gir Somnath and Amreli, which were hit by Cyclone Tauktae last month.
In Gir Somnath, more than 1,700 people had received shots by 4 pm. Dr Vipul Dumatar, block health officer of Una and Gir Gadhda, said more people would have turned up but for the fact that many didn’t come to know about the vaccination drive till late. “As many areas of Una are still without power (following the cyclone), there was doubt in people’s mind if the vaccination sessions would actually happen… This also affected the numbers,” said Dumatar.
The Gir Gadhda taluka has trained ASHA workers to help beneficiaries register on Co-WIN, and Dumatar said they were also reaching out to volunteers to pitch in.
In Amreli, as many as 2,604 were inoculated against a target of 3000. “Our PHCs in Jafrabad, two in Rajula and one in Khambha are still without electricity, limiting our capacity to set up more vaccination sites,” Dr J H Patel, the Amreli CDHO.
Even the tribal district of Narmada managed to give shots to 1,364 of the 1,400 registered, out of the target of 2,000. Additional CDHO Dr Vipul Gamit said, “The slots at urban centres got booked overnight. At one Covid-19 hospital, 175 persons turned up against 200 who had registered,” Gamit said.
The demand in urban areas was most evident in Junagadh Municipal Corporation, the only municipality of Gujarat where vaccinations for 18-44 were not started on May 1. All slots got booked within 5-10 minutes of opening for both Friday and Saturday, Junagadh Municipal Commissioner Tushar Sumera said. Its turnout for Friday was nearly 100%.
“We saw people coming in earlier than their appointed time, so we mobilised additional vaccinators and were done earlier than expected,” said Sumera.
Overall, since May 1, Gujarat has vaccianted 19.05 lakh people in the 18-44 age group.
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