Crowding, queues at all vaccine centres in Mumbai on first day of third phase
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) started the third phase of its mass immunisation programme on Monday. However, technical glitches in the newly-updated CoWIN app, lack of coordination among civic officials and confusion among the public affected the overall turnout. Vaccination centres also didn’t have adequate number of wheelchairs and seating arrangements for senior citizens.
On Sunday night, BMC selected four jumbo centres in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Mulund, Goregaon and Dahisar along with Seven Hills Hospital to start inoculating senior citizens and people above 45 years with comorbidities.
On Monday morning, the Central government relaunched the centralized app, Co-WIN 2.0, following which registrations started from 9am. However, much like when healthcare workers (HCWs) had attempted to register on the app in January when the nationwide immunisation programme began, the app crashed when people attempted to register, possibly because it was unable to handle to load from across the country. Citizens can also directly approach any nearby vaccination centres to register for their first shot.
The problems with Co-Win, which is monitoring the vaccination drive, led to tussles between beneficiaries and officials at vaccination centres. “They asked us to either wait or go back home and come later. They instructed us to call at the landline number before coming again,” said Sunita Joshi, a 64-year-old who had gone to the NESCO jumbo centre in Goregaon with her 70-year-old husband.
Many senior citizens said they had to wait for hours without any food and drinking water. “When I tried to register on the app at around 9am, it didn’t work. When I tried later, I could register my parents, aged 66 and 64 years. It generated a message which suggested reaching the centre after 12.30pm. But on reaching the centre, we were asked to wait in the queue along with people who hadn’t registered online,” said Pratik Goradia, 37, a resident of Dahisar.
There was chaos at the NESCO jumbo centre. Madhusudhan Jha, 43, who accompanied his senior citizen parents, pointed out that social distancing could not be maintained at the facility. “Senior citizens are most vulnerable to contracting the infection. So the centres should have made better arrangements because people were pouncing on each other at the registration counter. This is too risky,” said Jha, whose parents got their first shot of the vaccine after waiting for two hours.
At the Dahisar jumbo centre, there were only three wheelchairs and not enough chairs. “The entry point at gate 3 has a sloping dome which is extremely risky for elderly to walk across. There were no helpers to assist aged people who were coming alone for vaccination,” said Prasoon Gupta, a Kandivli resident who had taken his 67-year-old father to the centre.
At around 2pm, the Dahisar jumbo centre asked those who had come to the centre without registration to return home. “My son took a leave today to get us vaccinated but now, we are being asked to come tomorrow as the app isn’t working properly,” said Girish Pednekar, a 65-year-old Borivli resident.
Officials said they weren’t given enough time to prepare for senior citizens. “We have been already conducting the vaccination in phase I and II. So, the Central government should have given us a heads-up before suddenly instructing us to start phase III,” said a senior civic official from the BKC jumbo centre.