Senior citizens forced to wait for hours to get vaccinated

Senior citizens and those aged above 45 with comorbidities waiting for the vaccination at K.C. General Hospital in Bengaluru on Wednesday.  

The cumbersome process of registering for the vaccine is just the first hurdle in the long road to getting vaccinated. The CoWIN portal or the Arogya Setu app which senior citizens have to log on to to schedule an appointment does not give a time slot, as a result of which they find themselves waiting for as long as five hours to get their first shot. The limited number of vaccine centres only exacerbates the problem. Hospital staff say they are helpless as the glitches in the CoWIN portal are further adding to the delay.

To avoid long queues, senior citizens are rushing to hospitals early in the morning in the hope that they will get their shot quickly. However, more often than not, many who come in the morning at 10 a.m. said that they were able to get vaccinated and leave the hospital only by 3 p.m. This includes the half an hour they spend under observation.

A 64-year-old lawyer who received his jab at a private hospital in North Bengaluru said that over 60 senior citizens and their families had gathered at the hospital. It took him nearly two hours just to complete the registration process. “I had to spend close to four hours in the hospital. We have been so careful all these days and such a long wait time in the hospital for senior citizens is not ideal. The government must schedule time slots,” he said.

The prolonged wait is adding to anxiety levels. “We have been very careful till now, and we do not want to be exposed to the virus at the hospital,” said another senior citizen.

In some instances, those who had appointments scheduled on Wednesday were forced to go back without getting vaccinated as hospitals had limited doses. Sandeep Rao, who had scheduled a vaccination for his 65-year-old father at K.C. General Hospital, said that when they went at 1 p.m, they saw nearly 60 senior citizens waiting. “We were told to come back tomorrow. This happened although I had got an appointment for my father’s vaccination for Wednesday,” he said.

Hospitals are yet to streamline the process. In some centres, the registration process is set up at the hospital reception desk, and the verification, right before they receive the jab. In others, both senior citizens, those over 45 with comorbidities and regular patients were asked to wait in the same queue for registration. Many hospitals were issuing tokens.

Prasanna H.M., president, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA), cited glitches in the CoWIN portal and lack of time slots as the reason for why people have to wait for hours on end. “Normally, to vaccinate around 100 people, we need only three hours. But because of the glitches in the CoWIN portal, the same process is taking close to eight hours,” he said.

K. Sudhakar, Health and Family Welfare Minister and Medical Education Minister, said he would look into the issue and ensure that senior citizens are not burdened by the vaccination process.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 12:24:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/senior-citizens-forced-to-wait-for-hours-to-get-vaccinated/article33984618.ece

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