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A chaotic vaccine drive

The Covid-19 vaccination drive launched for the elderly in a state is marred by the lack of adequate healthcare staff and technical glitches on the CoWin registration platform.

Published: 04th March 2021 05:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th March 2021 03:42 PM   |  A+A-

Beneficiaries waiting in front of the vaccination centre at General Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram| Vincent Pulickal

Beneficiaries waiting in front of the vaccination centre at General Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram| Vincent Pulickal

Express News Service

KOCHI: The second phase of the Covid vaccination drive witnessed hundreds of beneficiaries comprising the elderly and those with comorbidities crowding in front of hospitals. Inadequate healthcare staff and technical glitches continue to disrupt the process

The Covid-19 vaccination drive launched for the elderly in a state is marred by the lack of adequate healthcare staff and technical glitches on the CoWin registration platform. Nearly every centre set up for vaccination across the state is encountering a heavy rush and the healthcare workers are forced to turn away elderly beneficiaries as they find it difficult to manage scores of registered frontline workers arriving for spot registration.

According to officials, the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse as hospitals are unable to provide efficient medical care for both Covid and non-Covid patients ever since the launch of the vaccination drive. Officials said it would have been ideal if the government had launched the vaccination drive for the general public after completing the phase for frontline workers. Authorities are struggling to cover nearly three lakh poll officials with two doses of vaccine ahead of the assembly elections. 

In Thiruvananthapuram,  71,386 out of the total 1,27,507 beneficiaries registered were vaccinated while in Ernakulam around 91,739 out of the total 1,54,775 beneficiaries registered were vaccinated. In addition to this, thousands of beneficiaries are arriving at each centre for spot registration. Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) state president Vijayakrishnan said that the Health Department is trying to vaccinate the elderly, people with comorbidities and nearly three lakh poll officials on a priority basis simultaneously. 

“We don’t have adequate manpower at any of these hospitals to cater to such a huge turnout of beneficiaries. The only way to run this drive is to shut down Covid and non-Covid OPs and assign the entire healthcare staff to the vaccination drive. There needs to be better planning as we are aiming to vaccinate a large section of the population,” said Vijayakrishnan. 

He said healthcare staff are burdened owing to spot registrations. “The government should take steps to create facilities for registration via Akshaya centres to ease the burden of healthcare workers,  assign more manpower at major hospitals and increase the number of slots to make the drive more smooth and accessible for the public. Both healthcare staff and the public are suffering,” he added.

Many districts are unable to add more vaccination centres because of technical glitches with the web portal. “People can approach any session sites as registration is open. There are issues when the registered and unregistered beneficiaries arrive at the same time and it takes a minimum of one-and-a-half hours to finish the vaccination of a single beneficiary. Hence we are forced to reschedule the time slot of already registered frontline workers,” said an official. 

The General Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, is one of the sites in the capital city which has been encountering heavy rush since Monday. “People assume that they will lose out on the vaccine if they do not come forward first. On day one, hundreds of beneficiaries especially elderly people, crowded in front of the hospital. Eventually, we had to stop giving tokens after a few hours,” said an official.  He said that every eligible beneficiary would get the vaccine. “People should be more patient. We started three additional session sites because of the heavy rush. On Tuesday, we gave tokens only for 350 beneficiaries and the rest of them had to return,” the official added.



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