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Vaccination centres bursting at seams

Beneficiaries who booked online slots are being turned away at vaccination centres. Spot registration throws mechanism out of gear even as officials urge people to remain patient

Published: 06th March 2021 05:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th March 2021 04:40 PM   |  A+A-

Beneficiaries being administered with  Covid-19 vaccine in Thiruvananthapuram | Vincent Pulickal

Beneficiaries being administered with  Covid-19 vaccine in Thiruvananthapuram | Vincent Pulickal

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Online registration for Covid-19 vaccination -- which is supposed to reduce crowding and waiting period -- has turned out to be useless for the elderly population in the district as the beneficiaries who booked the slots online in advance are being turned away due to heavy rush at vaccination centres.“I took my 75-year-old father and 70-year-old aunt for vaccination after registering online. We reached Thycaud Women and Child Hospital at sharp 9am as per our time slot.

There was a huge rush at the hospital when we arrived and elderly people were jostling without maintaining social distancing. It was impossible even to get inside. When I enquired, the hospital authorities said that there is no available time slot for us and they were giving priority to the people who came there for spot registration. They have launched the drive without any proper planning and online registration is a farce,” says Suresh Babu, a Vazhuthacaud native. He alleged that the health authorities are trying to promote private players.

“They are shooing away beneficiaries arriving at the vaccination centres so that we go to the private hospitals. There is no guarantee to get the vaccine even if you register online,” says Suresh Babu, who is one among the many beneficiaries in the district who had to leave the centre without getting the jab after registering online. As on Thursday, a total of 139,856 people have registered on the CoWIN platform for vaccination in Thiruvananthapuram district and 89,783 people have been vaccinated. 

Due to the huge rush at the vaccination centres, the district health authorities have suspended registration for the time being at General Hospital, Medical College Hospital and Pangappara Hospital until next Wednesday. Meanwhile, efforts are on to start new vaccination centres in the district. “There is utter chaos at all vaccination centres because of the spot registration. We had stopped giving new online registration at a couple of centres to finish the backlog. We have to limit spot registration to make the drive more smooth and avoid crowding. We have started more centres in the peripheral areas including Vattiyoorkavu, Kadakampally and Peroorkada from today. We have given direction to give only limited number of tokens for those coming for spot registration to avoid the heavy rush,” said an official associated with the vaccination drive. 

According to officials, the vaccination drive would become more full-fledged in the coming days. Around 11,000 people above 60 years and people with comorbidities above 45 have so far registered. “We have covered around 7,000 of the total registered beneficiaries as on Thursday. For covering the healthcare workers, it took nearly one-and-a-half months and this drive is going to take a minimum of three months to achieve the targets,” said an official. 

District collector Navjot Khosa told TNIE that efforts are on to tweak the current vaccination strategy and more guidelines are coming to ease the vaccination mechanism soon.“All these are initial hiccups and as per the current strategy, the general population will have to get the vaccine from a hospital setup. May be in the future if the situation demands, we may organise mass vaccination drives for the general public. People should show more patience and we will ensure that every single beneficiary would get his/her dose of vaccine. There is absolutely no vaccine shortage and there is no need to rush. Around 60 per cent of the population in the district are elderly,” said Navjot. 

She said more vaccination centres would come up in the private health centres soon. She said that currently, more priority is for officials who would be on duty during the assembly elections. “Ten more vaccination centres have started functioning at private hospitals in the district from Friday. Our current strategy is to decentralise the vaccination drive and open centres at every PHC and CHC so that it’s easily accessible. Private players have a huge role to play in the vaccination drive as covering the entire population by the public healthcare sector is a herculean task,” she added. 

She said that those who are financially capable should get the vaccine from the private centres so that more eligible beneficiaries, especially the poor get free vaccines. A health department official said the drive for the polling officials began nearly three weeks back. “During the initial days, the officials were not keen on getting the vaccine and then the drive for the elderly population began. Now, almost our entire machinery is deployed at the mass vaccination centres,” she said.



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