Mumbai Covid-19 vaccination drive for 45+ suspended for 3 days over shortage of vials

Updated on Apr 30, 2021 08:40 AM IST
According to BMC officials, the stock that they will have in their hand after vaccination on Friday will not be enough to keep the vaccination drive running through the weekend.
Beneficiaries above the age of 45 years waiting to get vaccinated at the NESCO Jumbo Covid-19 Vaccination Centre in Mumbai on Thursday.(Vijay Bate/HT Photo)
Beneficiaries above the age of 45 years waiting to get vaccinated at the NESCO Jumbo Covid-19 Vaccination Centre in Mumbai on Thursday.(Vijay Bate/HT Photo)
ByMehul Thakkar & Naresh Kamath, Mumbai

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday said vaccination for the 18-44 age group will not start on May 1, but only after adequate stock of vaccine doses is available. The ongoing vaccination drive for those above 45 years will be suspended for three days till May 2 due to shortage of vials. The civic body also appealed to citizens above 45 years of age not to crowd at vaccination centres, fearing they would get crowded after May 1 as the two groups will have different arrangements for vaccination.

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Also, the Maharashtra government on Thursday formally announced the extension of its lockdown for a fortnight after May 1. The state on April 21 had put strict restrictions on the movement of people till May 1, but with Covid-19 cases remaining upwards of 60,000 daily, it extended the lockdown till May 15.

According to BMC officials, the stock that they will have in their hand after vaccination on Friday will not be enough to keep the vaccination drive running through the weekend.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, BMC, said, “We have decided to suspend the vaccination drive in Mumbai for three days between April 30 and May 2. We may hardly have around 10,000 vaccine doses in our stock after Thursday. However, if we receive around 100,000 vaccine doses, we might restart the vaccination drive in the city.”

Kakani added, “With this, the vaccination drive that was going to start for the age group between 18 to 44 years is also postponed. For this age group, the drive will start only when we have sufficient stock.”

According to BMC officials, the stock of vaccine coming from the Central government will only be used for the age group of above 45 years, while the stock that will come from the state government will be used for the 18 to 44 years age group’s vaccination drive. As of now, there is no word from the state government when this stock will arrive since the supply is not available from vaccine manufacturers for the time being.

Further, the BMC added that all proposed 227 vaccination centres for vaccination of citizens above the age of 18 years will be operational by mid-May. The BMC also appealed to citizens above the age of 45 to not crowd at vaccination centres, stating that no citizen will be deprived of the vaccine. Significantly, it has also appealed the citizens to wear double masks, while going to vaccination centres. The advisory was issued after huge crowds were reported across vaccination centres in the city on Thursday at government and civic body-run vaccination centres. The vaccination drive was to get operational only by noon on Thursday, however, citizens had started reaching vaccination centres by as early as 6am. This resulted in huge queues and crowding outside several vaccination centres in the city. The BMC said, “Citizens in the age group of 45 years and above should not have the misconception that they will not get the vaccine as vaccination has started in the age group of 18 to 44 years. Even if the scope of vaccination is increased, priority will be given to citizens aged 45 years and above.”

The statement also added that from now on, those above 45 years of age will be vaccinated only they are registered on the Co-win portal.

Vijay Gangan, 79, along with wife and sister had to wait in line for five hours to be administered the Covid-19 vaccine at Mahim maternity home on Thursday. Gangan said he was determined to take his first dose of vaccine any how on Thursday and was ready to be in queue till evening if needed. “On two previous occasions despite scheduling my appointment, I was sent back from the hospitals citing shortage of vaccines. Hence today I decided to come directly to the hospital,” said Gangan. Gangan and his family members stood in line from 7am and his turn came from 12 noon. Similar is the case of Lekha Salunke, 55, who was waiting in line at KEM Hospital from 9am onwards for her second dose of vaccine. “The private hospital where I took the first dose has no stock from the last one week. The situation will only deteriorate after May 1 when citizens over 18 years will also be added in the vaccination list,” said Salunke.

Ashwini Bhide, additional municipal commissioner of the BMC, took to Twitter on Thursday saying, “All senior citizens in #Mumbai r kindly requested nt 2 crowd or stand in long queues @ #vaccination centres.Vaccine is in short supply just for now & so nt available @ all places in enough quantity. But be rest assured that all 45+ years citizens wil eventually get vaccinated. Even when the new drive for the 18-44 year age group starts, the centres available now will continue to remain active for 45+ years citizens.”

Currently, there are 136 vaccination centres, of which 63 are government and civic centres, and in the coming days the BMC plans to make additional 227 vaccination centres operational. These centres will vaccinate all above 18 years of age for free, but in the operational 63 vaccination centres citizens only above 45 years of age will be vaccinated.

According to BMC officials, they are also in the process of recruiting additional staff for the proposed 227 vaccination centres in the city. Devidas Kshirsagar, deputy municipal commissioner, BMC’s health department, said, “We are in the process of making arrangements for having 227 vaccination centres in the city. It will require three things broadly when it comes to conducting successful vaccination. This includes cold storage, health infrastructure for attending beneficiaries that might report adverse effect post immunisation followed by having sufficient nurses and doctors.” Kshirsagar added, “Every ward officer is in the process of recruiting nurses, doctors and required contractual staff. We will need around 2,000 contractual staff for running these 227 vaccination centres. We should be in a position by having all of these 227 centres operational by mid-May and after that vaccination will also start as and when doses are made available to us.”

The 227 vaccination centres are proposed to be opened up in each 227 electoral wards utilising community halls, health posts and party halls. These centres will be used for vaccination and post vaccination observation, and in case of any adverse effect, the BMC will tie up with nearby nursing homes and hospitals where the citizen will be rushed to in case of any adverse effect post vaccination.

For the age group for 18 to 44 years, the vaccination will only be on the basis of appointments. While the vaccine administration will be free at government and civic run centres, one will also have an option to get vaccinated by paying at private hospitals. Simultaneously, the BMC officials said they are also in touch with indigenous manufacturers directly and trying to get vaccine doses directly for the city. A BMC official not wishing to be named said, “We cannot directly procure vaccines for international manufacturers, and hence are in touch with domestic manufacturers to explore a possibility of getting any doses directly.”

According to BMC officials, for now the doses that are received from the central government will only be used for 45 and above age groups. Once the fresh stock procured by the state government starts coming in, vaccination for the 18 to 44 age group will start. The city will have three vaccine cold storage facilities at Dadar, Kanjurmarg and Andheri. Meanwhile, on Thursday 28,782 citizens were vaccinated,. Overall, 2,428,626 citizens have been vaccinated in the city since January 16, 2021.

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