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Sunday, May 09, 2021

In Kerala, panic over vaccine stock

Vaccination in several mega centres, government primary health centres and private hospitals has been suspended either for want of stock or after daily supplies ran out early.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: April 21, 2021 7:11:02 am
A queue at a school in Kottayam, Kerala, for Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday, amid a shortage of doses in the state. (Express)

Covid-19 vaccination centres in Kerala are facing heavy crowds amid a shrinking stock of vaccines in the state, where cases have started spiking once again, suddenly triggering increased demand.

Vaccination in several mega centres, government primary health centres and private hospitals has been suspended either for want of stock or after daily supplies ran out early.

According to sources in the health department, the existing vaccine stock stood at 4.72 lakh doses on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday.

“We hope fresh supply from the Centre would reach Kerala today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday) to meet the requirements in the coming days. Kerala had last week demanded 50 lakh doses,” sources said.

The growing demand and dwindling delivery is evident from figures. On April 15, the state had achieved 60 percent of its daily vaccination target through 1,378 vaccination centres, including 1,038 government-run facilities. On April 19, the state could achieve only 40 per cent of the daily target through 804 centres, including 639 in the government sector.

On April 19, the state had administered 1.51 lakh doses, taking the total doses of vaccine given in Kerala to 60,19,866.

Sources said the shrinking vaccine stock and growing panic were adding to the present crisis. “Till last week, many vaccination centres had to wait until even 10 people turned up at the facility to open a vaccine vial. In mega vaccination camps, we had to wait for people. In such camps held early this month, we could not achieve even half of the daily target. But the situation has changed with cases suddenly going up in the last one week. There were media reports about a vaccination shortage that also made people flock to vaccination centres in large numbers,” said Health Department officials.

In some districts, the administration on Tuesday re-introduced mandatory prior registration for vaccination to control the crowd and considering the shortage in vaccine supply and stock.

On Tuesday, Kerala reported 19,577 cases from 1,12,221 samples tested in the last 24 hours, taking the daily test positivity rate to 17.45 per cent. In some districts and local bodies, where infection is widespread, the test positivity rate has gone beyond 20 per cent.

As part of a fresh set of curbs, the government is introducing night curfew from 9 pm to 5 pm from Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, an expert committee appointed by the Kerala government has projected that the state would require 103.51 metric tons of medical oxygen by April 30.

“The daily production capacity of four plants in Kerala is 199 metric tons and they have a storage capacity of 1,325 MT of liquid oxygen,” said Dr R Venugopal, Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives at the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation.

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