Kerala

Scramble for vaccination in districts

People waiting in front of a vaccination centre at the Baker Memorial Lower Primary School in Kottayam on Tuesday.  

Rising disease transmission and fears of vaccine shortage have led to a scramble for vaccination in all districts, raising the prospects of vaccination sites becoming COVID-19 dissemination centres.

There is also the fear that unless the government takes steps to complete the vaccination of those above 60 years first, vaccine shortage may lead to many in the vulnerable group remaining partially immunised beyond the eight-week margin.

Since the State’s primary concern is to vaccinate and protect the elderly , priority should be given to the vaccination of the elderly, it is pointed out.

The current mess is likely to worsen when the Centre makes COVID-19 vaccination universal for all above 18 years from May 1.

“When vaccination was opened up for the public on March 1, we began by vaccinating those above 60 years. But it was opened up for those above 45 years, there is no separate category for senior citizens. Many senior citizens who had taken their first dose in the first two weeks of March are now due for their second dose but many have had to go back disappointed from vaccination sites these past few days,” G.S. Vijayakrishnan, State president of Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association, says.

He says the dosing interval of Covishield is six to eight weeks after the first dose and even those senior citizens who got vaccinated on March 1 still have plenty of time to get their second dose, by which time, the vaccine supply position is expected to improve.

However, he admits that he is beset with calls from senior citizens, apprehensive whether their second dose will be delayed beyond eight weeks because of the vaccine shortage.

Following a meeting called by the Chief Secretary on Tuesday, it has now been decided to streamline the process better to avoid huge gatherings at mass vaccination centres.

Officials say the demand for vaccines just shot up after the vaccine supply situation in the State became precarious.

“The rise in COVID cases and the concurrent situation of depleting vaccine stocks have had everyone rushing to take the vaccine. People are queuing up at mass vaccination sites since early morning. Registering everyone itself takes a long time,” says a senior health official.

It has now been decided to stop walk-in registrations, so that vaccines can be distributed in limited quantities to more vaccination sites. This will ensure crowd control and vaccines can be reserved at each site for those with registration. Senior citizens whose second dose is due can also schedule an appointment through CoWin so that they do not have to stand in queue.

“Vaccine shortage is acute in all States and the Centre is making vaccines available in small batches at fixed intervals. Thiruvananthapuram region is expected to receive 2.5 lakh doses on Wednesday. Mass camps cannot be run any more but all those who register online can get their shots by appointment,” says an official.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 5:20:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/scramble-for-vaccination-in-districts/article34369487.ece

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