BENGALURU: With the demand for vaccines rising sharply owing to the surge in the second wave of the pandemic, many vaccination centres are now forced to turn away beneficiaries. Doctors and officials in charge of vaccination centres at private medical establishments and government-run primary health centres (PHCs), are now down to counting the number of Covishield and Covaxin vials they have.
At many PHCs, those coming for the first jab are being turned away as priority is being given to senior citizens who are in line for the second vaccine dose. Their worry has only increased now, after the Union Government announced that those above 18 years of age too can get the vaccine.
“We are worried about how many people we will be able attend to in the coming days. There is a shortage of doses to vaccinate people tomorrow. There are many senior citizens and people aged above 45 years who are yet to get the second dose. But, with the present stock, we are giving preference to aged people who need the second dose. We are also fixing time slots so that there is ease in administering the vaccine, but shortage of vaccines prevails,” said a doctor at a PHC in West Bengaluru.
Similar is the case at private centres too. “The government wants us to increase the number of centres so that more people can be vaccinated. But they should supply sufficient quantity of doses also. Initially, there was not much rush, but now many people are coming forward. We are worried how we can attend to so many beneficiaries. The concern has increased as we also have to accommodate those aged above 18 years who are also equally vulnerable as they step out for work or studies,” a health worker in charge of swab collection at a private hospital in Yeshwanthpur said.
Citizens too point out that the situation is getting worse and feel that the government should think of all alternative measures now. “With cases rising and shortage of vaccines, how does the government aim to tackle the situation? There is already a shortage of beds and oxygen in government and private hospitals. They should give priority to vaccinating those who need the second dose and not ask them to postpone the jab by another few days,” said Pushpa B (67), who had gone to a PHC for her second dose, but was turned away. Some senior citizens are also coming together to visit large private hospitals for the vaccine.
Dr Arundati Chandrashekhar, Mission Director, National Health Mission, told The New Indian Express, “There is no shortage of vaccine. There are 3.3 lakh doses of Covishield and 1.75 lakh doses of Covaxin available. Also, five lakh Covishield and one lakh Covaxin doses are arriving for state.”In case of Bengaluru, she said, 98,000 doses of Covishield and 30,000 doses of Covaxin are available and the city will be getting one lakh doses more. “On an average, 30,000-40,000 people are vaccinated in Bengaluru every day and 2.5 lakh people in the state. So, there is no shortage,” she said.