The state Health Department will take two months or more to complete the first phase of the mass COVID-19 immunisation drive, which was earlier planned to be completed in 20 days by inoculating 50,000 healthcare workers on a daily basis. Following the instruction of the central government, the vaccination drive will now be conducted four days a week and the number of beneficiaries have reduced to 28,500 per day. Officials have attributed this delay to the technical glitch in the Co-WIN-20 application and the limitations in conducting the vaccination drive only four days a week with less than 30,000 healthcare workers (HCWs). Health activists, on the other hand, have advised the department to speed up the vaccination process.
Currently, eight lakh HCWs across the state, including doctors, nurses, ASHA and anganwadi workers have been registered on the Co-WIN application. Taking into consideration the huge numbers, the state Health Department had planned to vaccinate around 50,000 beneficiaries every day. However, so far, they have received a lukewarm response from the HCWs regarding the efficacy of the vaccines.
Dr DN Patil, state immunisation officer, said there is no issue if the first phase is extended, as there are other immunisation programmes across Maharashtra along with COVID-19, which need an equal amount of attention. The COVID-19 vaccination drive is important, but the Health Department cannot utilise all its manpower behind one vaccination drive. It will lead to problems in the other immunisation programmes. “After the instructions from the central government, we have decided to conduct the vaccination drive four days a week, so that other immunisation programmes are not hampered. Along with COVID-19, we also have vaccination drives for BCG, measles, polio and pentavalent, amongst others, which cannot be neglected,” he said.
Health activists have raised concern, stating the state government should speed up the process so that more lives can be saved from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. “We can understand that there are many loopholes in any of the biggest drives, but we need to solve that problem and make sure everything is proper. The state Health Department conducted three dry runs across Maharashtra to check the loopholes, so that the vaccination drive isn’t affected, but the problem still exists. Moreover, these vaccines were approved for emergency purposes. Taking note of the current scenario, I don't think the problem will be resolved, which led to further delay in the vaccination drive,” said Abhijit More, a health activist.
(To download our E-paper please To view our epaper please Tap here . The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)