THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Writer NS Madhavan became one of several senior citizens turned away from COVID-19 vaccination centres in the state due to poor management by the authorities. The 73-year-old took to social media to describe how vaccine delivery for the elderly has not improved even on the fifth day after the programme was launched.
“Total anarchy and probable corruption in corona vaccination. With great difficulty got a slot at GMTH, Karuvelipadi for this morning. When I reached there on time the person in charge informed that tokens for the day are issued and the govt hasn’t supplied enough vaccine,” tweeted Madhavan on Friday. “There was an unruly crowd of persons who were in similar position as I was. The system simply is not working and is hijacked by officials,” he added.
His comments drew the attention of other social media users who described similar experiences at vaccination centres. The barrage of complaints continued even after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced that the process would be streamlined for better vaccine delivery and crowd management. Though a token system was introduced to facilitate spot registration, the system often went haywire due to lack of manpower and stock of vaccines.
The Kerala Government Medical Officers' Association (KGMOA) had anticipated the trouble and demanded that the government arrange for enough manpower to resolve the issue.
“It is unfair to criticise the doctors who had to manage the vaccination along with other routine OP and COVID response activities, with limited manpower. The sessions planned for some centres are beyond their capacity,” said Dr T N Suresh, General Secretary, KGMOA. The association demanded that the National Health Mission recruit more paramedics for vaccine delivery, limit the vaccination centres to major hospitals and open mass vaccination centres. At present, family health centres and primary health centres have become vaccine centres with a target of 100 vaccinations per day with three health workers.
“Often more people turn up for spot registration and create chaos. The vaccination itself is a laborious process where we need to check the identity of the beneficiary, make entry, vaccinate and observe them,” said Dr Suresh.
The family health centres get around 200-500 outpatients in a day. The medical officer has to oversee the COVID-19 swab taking, shifting of serious patients, follow up on people in quarantine besides carrying out the administration of the health institution.
A health officer in NHM said the streamlining process would take time. “There is no need to jostle for vaccination as we have stock for all. It is a long drawn process,” he said.