National

Despite snags and snafus, people queue up for vaccine

Our Bureaus March 2 | Updated on March 02, 2021

On Day One of the expanded national vaccination programme that kicked-off on Monday for citizens above 60 years and those over 45 with co-morbidities, there was no evidence of the vaccine hesitancy that marred the first two phases in which frontline workers got their shots.

Instead, reports poured in from all across the country of people ready with their laptops or smartphones at 9.00 am sharp to start registering on the Co-WIN portal, or enthusiastically queuing up in hospitals an hour ahead.

S Anand, an octogenarian in Mumbai, expressed disappointment that despite getting on to the portal within the opening minutes, he could get a slot only for the end of the month.

In Hyderabad, 100-year old Jaidev Chowdhry, who got his shot at the Medicover hospital and was the eldest in the State to get the Covid-19 vaccine, sounded triumphant: “I have been waiting for this day to get vaccinated and enjoy my social life. Lots of hesitations and misinformation were being spread about the vaccine,” he said.

No smooth sailing

However, it was by no means smooth sailing for everyone, as technical snags hit the vaccination process in several places and people reported being frustrated by the Co-WIN portal, or being turned away at hospitals. Some also reported lack of clarity over payment. According to sources, vaccines would be administered for free at government hospitals and at a cost of ₹250 per dose at private ones.

In Chennai, 75-year-old TS Rajagopalan tried without success to register himself on Co-WIN and finally called up an authorised private hospital that was listed as part of the walk-in vaccination drive. But the hospital said it was awaiting a formal letter of approval from the government to start vaccination.

Both Apollo Hospitals and MGM Healthcare issued statements on a successful vaccination drive with the latter reporting a turnout of 200 beneficiaries on the first day.

Meanwhile, top private and charitable hospitals in Mumbai were not able to participate in the expanded vaccination programme due to technical snags. Disappointed at the development, they have written to the Maharashtra government.

The hospitals unable to participate included Breach Candy Hospital, Bombay Hospital, PD Hinduja Hospital, Jaslok, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Nanavati Hospital, and Hiranandani, among others. And the development comes at a time when the city and State are seeing a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.

In Pune, at the Kamla Nehru Hospital, senior citizens queued up since early morning. In Nagpur, vaccination was delayed as the server was down and people were finding it difficult to register their names.

In Gujarat, at several private hospitals in Ahmedabad and other major cities of the State, vaccination couldn’t start on March 1 due to server issues. Citizens and hospitals claimed registrations couldn’t happen on Co-WIN despite several attempts. At several locations, hospitals reported delay in delivery of vaccines, while in Ahmedabad some private hospitals faced payment issues for the jab.

In Karnataka, there was confusion over commencement of vaccination at several centres in the State, and many senior citizens who had registered early were seen fretting over the delay. The State health ministry attributed the delay for the official inauguration held outside the State Capital, which only commenced at 12 noon.

In West Bengal, too, the Co-WIN 2.0 app was activated only at noon on Monday. According to a spokesperson of AMRI Hospitals, 69 people got the vaccine at the Dhakuria unit, while 80 people were administered the first dose at the hospital’s Mukundapur unit.

“We faced some teething problems on day one, but we are sure these will be sorted out within the course of this week. All of us learning at every step,” said Rupak Barua, Group CEO, AMRI Hospitals, in a statement.

Published on March 02, 2021

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