Delhi plans to increase vaccination centres, but supply delays may hit vaccination of 18-44 age group
The Delhi government plans to increase the number of Covid-19 vaccination centres as inoculation opens for the 18-44 age group on May 1, said senior government officials. But a delay in vaccine supply may delay the start of vaccination for this age group, which is a sizeable chunk of Delhi’s 20 crore population, officials in the know of the matter said.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had said his government had approved the procurement of 1.34 crore [13.4 million] vaccine doses from various manufacturers to boost a massive vaccination drive.
Although the state government is yet to share the plan details, the 11 district administrations in Delhi are drawing up strategies to augment the number of vaccination sites and provide adequate staff to run the centres smoothly. Staffing of these centres is the major issue, official said, as many health-care and front-line workers are currently down with Covid-19.
The chief minister’s office had earlier stated that free vaccines will be available in all government-run Covid-19 vaccination centres in Delhi while those who opt for private centres will have to pay for the jabs.
At present, Delhi has around 500 vaccination centres spread across 192 hospitals and dispensaries. A majority of the vaccination sites are in government hospitals and while some districts are planning to increase the number of sites in hospitals and dispensaries, other districts are looking at school buildings as possible vaccination sites.
A senior official with the New Delhi district said on condition of anonymity, “We are in the process of working out the number of new sites that would be needed to ensure a hassle-free vaccination process for the 18-44 age group. We are planning to have dedicated vaccination sites for this group.”
Another official said new centres are also needed to ensure that there is not much crowding at the vaccination site.
The New Delhi district, which has 80 vaccination sites, is also planning to set up a mega vaccination centre to cater to the rush, as the number of people in this age group will be more, said a senior official there.
Senior district officials involved in the identification of the new vaccination sites said a number of new centres are being planned as per the availability of manpower, which is the crucial aspect, as districts are facing a manpower crunch as a lot of health-care and essential service providers are currently down with Covid-19.
A north-west Delhi district official said, asking not to be named, “We have identified 16 new sites in government schools. We will scale up the number of vaccination sites later, once we get more manpower, especially vaccinators.”
A vaccination site must has five staff members, including a vaccinator. A district magistrate, who did not wish to be named, said, “We will be roping in teachers and civil defence volunteers for data entry and management of observation rooms. But we still need more vaccinators and accordingly, we will increase the number of sites.”
The municipal corporations have also sent their request to increase the number of sites to the Delhi government. North Delhi Municipal Corporation mayor Jai Prakash said, “We have sent the list of 20 additional centres to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) for approval.”
District authorities have to share their plan for new vaccination sites with the health department and the DDMA. A Delhi government official said no decision has been taken so far on whether to open dedicated sites for the 18-44 age group or not.
A third senior district official said, also on condition of anonymity, “We are just working out the plan. A final decision regarding new centres has to be taken by the government.”