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Friday, April 16, 2021

Jharkhand blames shortages for low vaccination rate, awaits 20 lakh doses

Jharkhand Health Department had written twice to the Centre — the first letter on March 23, and the next one on April 2 — asking for 10 lakh doses on each occasion.

Written by Abhishek Angad | Ranchi |
Updated: April 8, 2021 2:36:46 pm
Attributing the slow vaccination rate to a shortage of vaccines in the state, a Health Department official, who did not wish to be named, said: “The Central government has told the Health Department to plan for 15 days of vaccination in advance. We had planned for it, but now we don’t have vaccines." (Representational)

Amidst growing unhappiness among several states over shortage of vaccines, Jharkhand is still waiting for a shipment of 20 lakh doses to expand its vaccination drive at a panchayat-level. Jharkhand currently has 1.75 lakh doses and, as of April 7, provisional data shows that the state has only vaccinated 22.5 per cent of the targeted population supposed to receive the first dose.

Jharkhand Health Department had written twice to the Centre — the first letter on March 23, and the next one on April 2 — asking for 10 lakh doses on each occasion.

“We have demanded a total of 20 lakh doses and we have been communicated by the Ministry that we will receive 10 lakh doses on April 9, and the rest 10 lakh will be delivered by April 15,” Jharkhand Health Secretary KK Soan said.

According to the data made available by the Health Department, out of the 83.86 lakh beneficiaries, only 18.27 lakh received their first dose. Even for the second dose, only 36 per cent of those 45 and above received the vaccine till April 7.

The Health Department said that had the vaccine been made easily available, they would have increased its reach at a panchayat-level.

Attributing the slow vaccination rate to a shortage of vaccines in the state, a Health Department official, who did not wish to be named, said: “The Central government has told the Health Department to plan for 15 days of vaccination in advance. We had planned for it, but now we don’t have vaccines. That is why the targeted population has not catered to. ”

He added that although they are scheduled to receive vaccines, the department needs more time for logistics. “The Health Department cannot be given the vaccines a day prior to the drive. We need the vaccine in two-three days in advance as transporting it to places like Sahibganj, Dumka requires time. It requires a whole day, so the vaccine cannot be sent a day prior to the planned drive,” the official said.

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The official also warned of difficulties during the summer and monsoon months.

“Another issue is that day by day the temperature is increasing. It will be very difficult to mobilise people to the vaccination sites which also have limited capacities.People would want to rest for sometime after walking for a few kilometers. And then there will be the onset of monsoon, and it will again become difficult. We need to mobilise as soon as possible,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise in the state. As on April 7, there were 6,884 active cases in the state. Seven people also died on April 7 due to the infection.

However, officials maintained that they are prepared to deal with the surge. As per the Jharkhand National Health Mission Data, Jharkhand has 15,813 beds without oxygen; 2037 beds with oxygen support; 707 ICU beds; and 649 ventilators.

With Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) seeing several Covid patients from various districts, Additional Director of RIMS and Joint Health Secretary Prasad Waghmare said: “There is no shortage of beds in Jharkhand and the maximum bed occupancy is in Ranchi i.e 30 %, as per the data made available to us.”

RIMS currently has 100 normal beds, 107 beds with oxygen support and 45 Ventilator Beds. The department has ordered it to increase to 148, 131, 60 respectively. A Health Department Official said officials from various districts are referring patients to Ranchi as they “don’t want to take blame”.

“This is creating some problems at RIMS Hospital,” an official added. On April 6, 1,264 people tested Covid-19 positive in Jharkhand. As of now, 966 are still hospitalised across the state.

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