The Mahim centre in Mumbai has been closed due to shortage of Covid-19 vaccine. (Satish Bate/Hindustan Times)
The Mahim centre in Mumbai has been closed due to shortage of Covid-19 vaccine. (Satish Bate/Hindustan Times)

Many vaccination centres in Mumbai shut due to shortage of vaccine doses

Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said the state was left with 1.4 million doses, which would last only three days. He urged the Centre to prioritise shipments to the state, which is reporting close to 10 times higher number of new infections daily than the region with the next-highest numbers
By Mehul Thakkar
UPDATED ON APR 08, 2021 04:25 PM IST

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday shut its Covid-19 vaccination centre in Mahim because of the shortage of doses, said assistant municipal commissioner Kiran Dighavkar.

The closure came two days after municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said they were facing a shortage of vaccines and were constantly in touch with the Centre for additional doses.

Maharashtra health minister, Rajesh Tope on Thursday said that the state has only two days of Covid-19 vaccine stock, after which it will officially run out of vaccine doses for the immunisation drive. “Vaccination has stopped in districts such as Satara, Sangli and Panvel and others. We have two more days of stock,” he said on Thursday.

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Tope also accused the Centre of supplying a lesser number of vaccines doses and said that the matter has been raised before the Centre through various mediums.

Citing figures from the Centre’s latest release order of vaccines, Tope claimed that states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana have been given more vaccines in comparison with population and Covid-19 cases, while the state “has been given 750,000 vaccine dosages only”, in the latest allotment.

While Tope was speaking, the Centre increased the the limit to 1.7 million. “Even this is less because we need 4 million vaccine doses a week; 1.7 million doses are not enough,” Tope said after Centre’s announcement. “Our pace has increased, centres have increased. How can a state that has the most number of cases in the country get lesser vaccine doses?” he asked. “I talked to Dr Harshavardhan [Union health minister]… I raised the issue of discrimination with us. We have the most number of active patients, positivity rate and death with a population of 120 million. Why are we given so few vaccines?” he asked.

“Harshvardhan Ji assured me that corrections will be done soon. We are still waiting,” he said.

Punjab and Delhi also on Wednesday said they will run out of vaccines within days and requested the central government for replenishments. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan accused the three non-Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states of politicising the issue.

The Union health minister issued a statement later on Wednesday evening, hitting out at what he said was attempts to “divert attention” from the state’s slow vaccination drive, and targetting Punjab, Maharashtra, and Delhi, all of which have asked for an expansion of the criteria for vaccination, something the Union government isn’t willing to do right away. “Doesn’t it seem evident that these states are trying to divert attention from their poor vaccination efforts by just continuously shifting the goal posts? Politicising such a public health issue is a damning indictment of certain political leaders who should know better,” said Harsh Vardhan in the statement.

Later, the Union health ministry sent letters to Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab, asking them to take “immediate corrective action” to ensure doses are delivered to health and front-line workers. The letter carried the same figures as disclosed by Harsh Vardhan in his statement.

In Mumbai, officials said several private vaccination centres have also expressed their inability to vaccinate people citing the unavailability of vaccines.

The BMC has been vaccinating over 50,000 people daily. As on Tuesday, it had administered around 150,000 doses.

To be sure, while overall supplies may be there at the state level, individual centres may run out of stock on account of how the states manage their replenishment.

Only four of the 41 vaccination centres were operational in Navi Mumbai due to the shortage of vaccines. The vaccination centres in Panvel were shut since Wednesday due to the shortage.

Anand Gosawi, health officer, Panvel Municipal Corporation, issued a statement saying the drive will be stopped for the next few days. “There are 21 approved centres across the city... We have no stock of Covishield while... Covaxin doses...will be used only for second doses.”

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), which was the first in Thane district to start a jumbo vaccination centre with four booths, has closed it down. Around 37 centres run by the corporation in the city were shut as of Thursday. NMMC commissioner Abhijit Bangar said they have taken up the issue with the government and are expecting more doses in a day or two.

Ramla Beevi, 63, a Kerala resident who was in Navi Mumbai to visit a relative and planned to get vaccinated in the city, had to return without getting her dose. “After we reached [the vaccination centre], we saw many people had to be turned away due to the lack of stock. The commotion was about the shortage of the stock which led to panic and most of them had to return,” Beevi said.

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