Vaccine shortage: Even people in older age group turned away

Wait continues: A notice being pasted at a public health centre in Bengaluru on Saturday.

Wait continues: A notice being pasted at a public health centre in Bengaluru on Saturday.

With mixed messages on vaccine availability from the State government, 40-year-old Raju S. was not sure if he would actually get his first shot when he decided to visit a vaccination camp organised by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) at Medahalli Government School, near K.R. Puram, on Saturday. But when he arrived, he found only around 10 people waiting in line to get their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. With no one in the above 45 years category, the staff at the camp decided to vaccinate him and others who fell in the 18 to 44 years category.

Tepid start

Unlike Mr. Raju, many citizens, even those in the older age groups, were unable to find vaccination centres that had stock. On the first day of a tepid start to the fourth phase of the vaccination drive, vaccines were in short supply at government-run and private centres. Only 19,602 doses across all age groups were administered in government hospitals and primary health centres on Saturday as against the daily average of over 40,000.

Shridhar Murthy (name changed), a 61-year-old resident of Nandini Layout, who was due for the second dose, visited at least three Urban Primary Health Centre (UPHC) in Nandini Layout, Mahalakshmi Layout, and Rajajinagar on Saturday only to be told that he would have to return another day as there were no vaccines available. Several UPHCs in the city had put up print-outs reading ‘COVID-19 vaccine no stock’ .

Some UPHCs maintained minimal stock for those whose second dose is due. According to a staffer at the Jalahalli UPHC, there were just five vials in stock.

Rudresh L.T., who works in the UPHC at Agrahara Dasarahalli, said there was no stock. “We do not know when we will get the next consignment,” he said.

BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta told TheHindu that the State government had already placed an indent for vaccines from pharmaceutical companies. “Till such a time when vaccines are distributed to the BBMP, we will have to make do with the existing stock. Based on the demand, the existing stock is being distributed to the UPHCs,” he said.

Crunch in pvt. hospitals

It was a similar situation at private hospitals which have returned their existing stock to the BBMP. A senior civic health official said they received around 3,000 doses from private hospitals.

Prasanna H.M., president of PHANA, said: “There is no clarity on when we will get vaccines as the private supply channel is yet to be defined. Even suppliers of vaccines for polio and other infections do not have any idea.”

He said he would write to the government urging them to supply vaccines to private hospitals through the supply chain that has already been established.

“Everybody has the right to health and there should be no discrimination. Let the government provide vaccines to private hospitals as well,” he said, and added that if the State does not respond favourably, PHANA would file an affidavit before the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2022 6:39:55 pm |