Forget long queues, Covid vaccination centres in Pune now seeing empty chairs

Over 8 lakh people who are eligible for their second dose in Pune yet to be fully immunised due to hesitation and declining fear of Covid
Despite special vaccination drives undertaken by the administration for easy access to vaccines, government centres in Pune reported nearly five lakh surplus doses as of Saturday, October 23. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
Despite special vaccination drives undertaken by the administration for easy access to vaccines, government centres in Pune reported nearly five lakh surplus doses as of Saturday, October 23. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Oct 24, 2021 04:22 PM IST
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BySteffy Thevar

PUNE: Till June and July this year, most inoculation centres in the city would often run into a “no doses left” situation as demand was high amidst short supply of vaccines. Now however, the situation has reversed so much so that despite special vaccination drives undertaken by the administration for easy access to vaccines, government centres reported nearly five lakh surplus doses as of Saturday, October 23.

Dr Sanjay Deshmukh, deputy director of health services, Pune circle, said, “As of now, the district has about five lakh vaccine doses in storehouses. We hope to vaccinate about 100% of the population with the first dose by the end of this month and 75% of the population with the second dose. Despite having surplus doses available and multiple vaccination centres running across the district, there are people who are hesitant to take the second dose and so we are hoping that if someone gets vaccinated this month with their first dose, going by the 84 days’ mandatory gap between the two doses, the person would get the second dose by February. So, the district would be fully immunised by February.”

Dr Deshmukh said that the reason there are no takers for the second dose although it is mandatory to take the second jab to be declared as fully immunised is hesitation on the people’s part and declining fear among them about Covid-19, now that the number of new cases and deaths due to the infection has come down drastically.

On Saturday, Pune city’s Covid-19 vaccination count went above the 5 million mark.

Pune mayor Murlidhar Mohol said, “The fact that the city of Pune has crossed the 50 lakh doses mark is satisfactory and is reassuring for all. Since the commencement of vaccination, several drives have been conducted through various means, including centres and special drives. I would like to thank the civic staff, administration and the health department and also beneficiaries.”

“Although the city had a tough time inoculating its population during the second wave, the situation began to change post-August as private hospitals joined in the drive. As a result, a heavy crowd at government vaccination centres chose to visit private ones, reducing the burden on public health machinery. By September, when the state received close to 20 million doses, Pune expedited the vaccination drive. The long queues then were replaced by empty chairs; the ‘no doses left’ boards by doses available; and once a busy health staff now waiting for people to get vaccinated,” he said.

“Till July, our leaves were cancelled and work hours too were increased. But as the situation changed, we are all doing eight-hour regular duty, and there is no rush mainly because people do not seem to have a sense of urgency to get the second dose quickly after the second wave waned, said a 30-year-old nurse at Satara road-based hospital.

As of Saturday - over 23,000 healthcare workers; 40,000 frontline workers; over 300,000 senior citizens; and 500,000 citizens in the 45 to 60 age group – are yet to take their second dose. Not only have all of them taken their first dose, they have also completed the mandatory 84 days after the first dose. Further, those who got infected after taking their first dose in the months of May, June or July have completed the mandatory three-month period as well. A total 884,957 people who have taken their first dose are still to take their second dose.

To make access easier for people, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has even allowed housing societies to apply for mobile vaccine vans that help facilitate vaccination at one’s doorstep. Dr Suryakant Devkar, PMC immunisation officer, said, “We have surplus vaccines and so, we have increased the number of centres to make it easier for people to get the vaccine closest to their homes. Time and again, health experts and doctors have said that it is important to take both the shots. The side effects if any during the first shot are unlikely to repeat themselves after the second shot.”

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Friday, December 03, 2021