Nearly 90 dosages of the first indigenous vaccine-COVAXIN have been wasted across Maharashtra since the vaccination drive started on January 16. Officials have attributed this waste to the lower turn out of the beneficiaries at the six centres, where COVAXIN is being administered.
Meanwhile to address this issue, the state government has allowed walk-in appointments and calls more than the scheduled numbers. Moreover, the Co-WIN app now allows for recipients to be adjusted under a category called ‘add beneficiary’.
Each day, the centres have a target to vaccinate 100 people for which they need five vials of COVAXIN. Thus, if vaccination centres get fewer healthcare workers (HCWs), the remaining opened dosages will go waste.
According to the data, 327 of 600 HCWs were inoculated on Wednesday at the six centres which are dedicated to COVAXIN. Moreover, 90 dosages of COVAXIN were wasted in the last three days of the drive, of which 33 were wasted on Wednesday as the vaccine can only be preserved for four hours once it is opened for vaccination.
In the six vaccination sites in Maharashtra, government-run Grant Medical College in Mumbai, which is also known as JJ Hospital, has wasted 13 doses. While the Government Medical College (GMC) in Nagpur has wasted as many as 26 doses, the highest in the state. This is followed by GMC Aurangabad (20 doses), GMC Solapur (13 doses), and District Hospital (DH) Pune (10). The DH Amravati has wasted only 6 doses, the lowest in the state till January 20.
Dr Shelake, DHO, Aurangabad said the response for the COVAXIN is poor due to which many beneficiaries are not coming forward for the vaccination drive. Moreover, the beneficiaries have some questions about safety and side-effects which are being answered.
“Today only 16 of 100 HCWs were vaccinated which is second-lowest in the state. However the numbers will increase gradually when the awareness about the vaccines amongst the HCWs are increased,” he said.
COVAXIN has approved the completion of phase III trials. The decision that those unwilling to take it will not be eligible for the other approved vaccine, Covishield, has angered many healthcare workers. “A few doctors have asked us why the vaccine was offered when its efficacy is still being studied,” said a nodal officer from one of the centres.
Now, to address the issue of the low turnout of the beneficiaries, the health department has instructed the six centres to call more than the target number of beneficiaries. Also, Co-WIN application has added another option, ‘add beneficiaries’ under which HCWs who are registered on the app can get vaccinated even if they don't have an appointment for the day.