Mumbai civic body gears up to vaccinate senior citizens, comorbid citizens above age 45
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is gearing up to start the Covid-19 vaccination drive for senior citizens, and citizens above age 45 years who have co-morbidity, by conducting training sessions for hospital staff. The Central government had announced on Wednesday that the third phase of the vaccination drive will begin country-wide from March 1.
In a meeting on Thursday, BMC decided to contact the hospitals in the city, empanelled under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana and Central government insurance scheme, which qualify for administering the vaccine to citizens. Training sessions for the hospital staff who will administer the vaccines will take place, along with logistically readying their premises for the vaccine drive.
Approximately 3,000,000 Mumbaiites will qualify as beneficiaries for the third phase of the vaccination drive, according to data collected by the civic body during its My Family, My Responsibility campaign. However, BMC is still awaiting instructions from the government on how the registration of these beneficiaries will take place, and what documents will be required.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner in-charge of BMC’s public health department said, “We are awaiting guidelines from the Central government regarding this phase of the vaccination drive. The training module for staff who will administer the vaccine is yet to be activated by the government because it is Co-WIN app-based training. We are also awaiting clarity on whether we will register beneficiaries on the Co-WIN app, or they will register themselves.”
Once the registration process is complete, BMC will have clarity regarding the number of beneficiaries who qualify for vaccination. Kakani said, “It may prove challenging. Due to the lifestyle in a city like Mumbai, almost everyone has co-morbidity. Everyone has blood pressure or hypertension. What documents beneficiaries above age 45 years will have to submit to prove they are co-morbid, remains to be examined.”
BMC is examining if a simple doctor’s certificate will suffice for those with co-morbidities, or patients will have to submit their medical history. A senior civic official said, “We may run into another challenge if we say a simple doctor’s certificate regarding co-morbidity can qualify a beneficiary to get vaccinated. I may have high blood pressure today and may not record it tomorrow. Those who are in the highest risk groups should be prioritised.”
Whether Mumbai will be able to start phase three of the drive, by March 1, as scheduled by the state government will depend on the amount of time it will take for beneficiaries to get registered. The actual drive may take two or three days more to kickstart, authorities said. A senior civic official said, “It may be logistically difficult for a person to walk in for a vaccine shot, the same day he or she gets registered. We also have to decide the charges for vaccination, in the case of private hospitals.”
More meetings of the BMC’s public health department will take place on Friday and Saturday to chalk out all details of the drive.
Presently, BMC is vaccinating healthcare workers from the first phase that began on January 16, and frontline workers from the second phase that began on February 4, across 36 vaccination centres in the city. Until Wednesday, BMC has vaccinated a total of 186,158 beneficiaries, of which 83,241 are frontline workers. 13,754 healthcare workers have also received the second shot of their vaccine, administered 28 days after the first shot.