Vaccine shortage: Businesses tense ahead of Gujarat’s compulsory vaccine deadline

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on June 30, 2021

Several govt centres have closed down due to lack of stocks, while private ones have quit the vaccination programme

With only a day to go for the Gujarat government’s diktat on ‘compulsory’ vaccination for business-owners, nervousness has gripped citizens amid shortage of vaccines.

The State, which had received over 28 lakh doses for the week ending June 27, has started this week with only 18 lakh doses.

The average vaccination per day had improved from 2.5 lakh doses in mid-June to about 3.85 lakh doses per day during the week ending June 27.

But this week started with 2.49 lakh vaccinations on Monday amid severe shortage of both Covaxin and Covishield at the vaccine centers.

Several government-run vaccine centers have temporarily closed down due to the lack of stocks, while many private centers set up by private hospitals and healthcare facilities have quit the vaccination programme citing non-viability under the new cost structure.

“First, the supplies are very erratic. And second, there is not much economic sense for private centers under the new pricing structure,” said a center manager at one of the private hospitals in Vadodara. The absence of private paid vaccine centers can be seen on the CoWIN portal, which has far lesser number of private paid vaccine sites, compared to what was seen during May-June.

Corrective measures

Pradipsinh Jadeja, Gujarat Minister of State for Home, on Tuesday, acknowledged the shortage situation and assured of corrective measures.

“Shortage of Covaxin and Covishield doses has come to our notice. The matter was discussed at the core committee meeting chaired by the Chief Minister. We have made arrangements so that in the coming days people don’t have to face any difficulty in getting a vaccine,” said Jadeja.

Economic loss

However, the State apex trade body, Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), has expressed concerns on the economic loss to businesses if non-vaccinated staff or owners are not allowed to work.

“The businesses have barely started to operate after last year’s lockdown. In such a situation, preventing non-vaccinated people to operate their businesses will push the businesses further into losses.

“We request the government to provide a month’s time to get the vaccination proof for such business establishments,” said Natubhai Patel, President, GCCI, in a representation to the Gujarat government.

Earlier, the Gujarat Traders’ Federation had also raised their demand to extend the deadline to vaccinate business-owners and employees.

Owners and staff working at commercial complexes, gyms, shops, libraries, restaurants, public transport services, cinema and malls will have to get their first vaccine dose by June 30 in the 18 big cities. The deadline for the rest of the State has been fixed at July 10.

Published on June 29, 2021

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