Mumbai civic body starts inoculation as healthcare workers queue up for Covid-19 vaccine jab
The nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive reached the city on Saturday morning. The drive in India is the largest inoculation exercise in the world. In Mumbai, 40 vaccination booths have been set up in 10 vaccination centres. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) achieved 48.15% of its target of administering vaccines to 4,000 frontline workers on the first day before the vaccination drive was suspended till January 18 due to glitches in the Covid vaccine intelligence network (CoWIN) app.
The 10 vaccination centres in Mumbai were decked up on the first day of the vaccination drive. Some, like the centres at BYL Nair Hospital and the Covid-19 jumbo centre at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), had selfie spots where people can take photos with the message “I got my Covid-19 vaccine” in the background.
“Since it was the first day of vaccination, some centres reported crowding but the system will be gradually be channelised better to stop the gathering of beneficiaries,” said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, BMC.
At around 8.30am, the “vaccine van” carrying 500 units of Covishield reached Dr RN Cooper Municipal General Hospital at Vile Parle, where it was welcomed by cheering staffers. Covishield is the Indian variant of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. Cooper Hospital’s nursing staff welcomed the vaccine van with arti, applause and sweets. After the vaccines were unloaded, the sweets were distributed and cheers of “hip hip hurray” could be heard.
At Sion Hospital, before starting the vaccination drive, dean Dr Mohan Joshi gave an emotional lecture to staffers, in which he recounted the past 10 months of the Covid-19 pandemic and thanked all medical staffers for their tireless service. Despite last-minute delays in informing registered healthcare workers (HCWs) of the timing and location of vaccination centres, 1,926 HCWs (including doctors, nurses, accredited social health activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers were able to reach the centres. BMC had said it would vaccinate 4,000 HCWs on the first day, but around 48.15% HCWs received the vaccines.
Owing to the slow server, health officers couldn’t send messages about the place and timing for the vaccination using the CoWin app, which has been developed by the Centre to monitor the inoculation drive. “This [technical failure] will further increase the work of officers. So, the decision has been taken to halt it [vaccination] for two days. The final decision will be taken on Monday if the app starts functioning properly,” said Kakani. Due to these glitches, none of the beneficiaries got vaccination certificates on Saturday and BMC officials said they were unable to update data manually on the excel sheet recording beneficiaries, which is maintained by the state health department.
After a low turnout in the first few hours, footfall increased in the afternoon. Among senior citizen HCWs was Dr Devadhvala Dilnazj, 75, a retired anaesthetist reached BYL Nair Hospital by 9.30am and was the first to get vaccinated at the hospital.
Beneficiaries had to show identity cards (most showed PAN cards), following which they were given token numbers. Until their token number was called, they had to wait in the waiting areas which were quickly overcrowded and the requisite distancing could not be maintained. There were long queues at vaccination centres in Cooper and Shatabdi hospitals, and at the jumbo centre in BKC.
Dr Dilip Patil, state surveillance officer said there was no adverse side effects of the vaccine. On Saturday, there were 22 minor incidents of side effects like headache, pain at a local side, tenderness and dizziness . “This is normal in all kinds of vaccination where such minor side effects are recorded. There is no case of severe or major side effects,” he said.