Mumbai civic body yet to receive guidelines for Phase 3 of Covid-19 vaccination drive
Considering the sudden spike in the number of new Covid-19 cases, doctors are pushing for commencement of the third phase of the mass immunisation programme. Citizens aged above 50 are most vulnerable to contracting Covid-19 owing to their underlying health conditions. Now, as there is a growing speculation that the city might be heading to the second wave of the pandemic like Europe, doctors are suggesting the start of the third phase at the earliest to improve the immunity of the elderly population.
However, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cannot start the third phase without the nod of the central government. Civic officials also claim that they are yet to receive guidelines for the third phase – expected to begin from the first week of March.
“When we started the first two phases of the inoculation, the Centre had given us guidelines on who the healthcare and frontline workers are, who should be administered the jab as well as the criteria for their health check-ups. But we haven’t received any such guidelines for the third phase yet,” said a senior civic official.
In the first week of February, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan stated in Lok Sabha that the third phase of Covid-19 vaccination is likely to commence in March and will cover 270 million crore people aged 50 years and above as well as those with comorbidities.
As HT had reported earlier, in a meeting held with the civic officials last week, the state Covid-19 task force officers emphasised on the need for starting the third phase.
“It generally takes over two weeks after the first shot to develop antibodies to fight the virus. Thus, the sooner we start the mass immunisation process, the faster we can stop its infection rate among senior citizens,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician at Bombay Hospital who was part of the meeting.
BMC claims that during the door-to-door survey under the ‘My Family, My Responsibility’ campaign, it has recorded the details of citizens with comorbidities such as tuberculosis (TB), hypertension, cardiac ailments, among others. But the civic officials are unaware on how to use the data for the third phase of vaccination.
“A person may have more than one comorbidity, such as TB along with hypertension. But we don’t have that bifurcation. Also, a large number of patients go to private hospitals for treatment, so we don’t even have that data for cross verification,” said the officer.
The civic body fears that lack of clarity may lead to further confusion and dampen the vaccination process in the third phase.
“The centralised Co-WIN app is functioning better, but it still has a few glitches. To start the vaccination process for over 3 million public, we need better guidance and clearer instructions from the central government,” said another civic official, who is working on the mass vaccination process.