Kerala: Not what the doctor ordered

Our Bureau Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on March 05, 2021

Indian Navy personnel are being briefed before being inoculated with Covid-19 vaccine at the INS Angre naval base in Mumbai on Friday   -  AFP

The fifth day of Covid-19 vaccination yielded mixed signals in Kerala. Reports of shortage of vaccine and possible corruption surfaced even as the State government decided to introduce a token system for spot registrations and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan clarified that the State has stocked up enough vaccines to inoculate all.

Earlier in the morning, noted writer and commentator NS Madhavan tweeted about ‘total anarchy and probable corruption in Covid19 vaccination. With great difficulty got a slot at GMTH, Karuvelipadi for this morning. When I reached there on time the person in-charge informed that tokens for the day are issued and the government hasn’t supplied enough vaccines. There was an unruly crowd of persons who were in similar position as I was. The system simply is not working and is hijacked by officials. Urgent attention @COVID19centre.

In another incident, when consulting specialists at a noted private hospital in Ernakulam went to get their second dose administered free to frontline healthcare workers, much to their shock, they were turned away. They were told no stocks of vaccine was available. However, at the same hospitals paying senior citizens, part of phase-II vaccination, were administered their first dose. This led to angry protests from the doctors, who alleged that authorities were catering to paying cohort at the expense of those entitled free vaccination.

But for 82-year-old MG Thankamma, a retired Government High School teacher in Ernakulam, the need to undergo inoculation was just a necessary evil which had interfered with the routine work at home. Her granddaughter, a BTech student, helped with registration and she was assigned a slot between 10 am and 5 pm at Krishna Hospital in the neighbourhood. “There was no unruly crowd, or any jostling of the kind reported from elsewhere in the State. Everything went off in a pleasant manner. The hospital authorities had made seating arrangements for senior citizens and those in advanced age trotting in at the place on Friday,” adds the octogenarian.

‘No vaccine shortage’

Krishna Hospital authorities said that they have not faced any shortage of vaccine and they are stocked up well, too. They have been able to administer shots to nearly 500 eligible persons after launching the campaign on March 3.

Sunil Koshy Panicker, a retired banker from Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district, who received Covishield vaccine on Friday morning, had an altogether different story to tell. An ASHA worker had visited his place. He was told that 30 eligible persons are being called from a municipal ward every day to the local public health centre for vaccination. He got the call on Thursday morning and was directed to show up at the PHC at 8.30 am on Friday morning. Everything was over in a jiffy before he was asked to spend the observation period in a separate space. Before he left, he was told that an ASHA worker would give a call after 28 days to remind about the second dose. Meanwhile in Karnataka, senior citizens in urban centres found vaccination to be a harrowing experience as many who had registered early did not figure in the list to be vaccinated as all available slots were filled up. Karnataka Opposition leader, Siddaramaiah in a letter to the Prime Minister urged to waive off the fee of ₹250 in private hospitals.

In Maharashtra,Director of Medical Education and Research, TP Lahane told BusinessLine that the process of vaccination after a few technical hiccups was running smoothly. On Thursday 38,765 senior citizens got their first dose, which is way higher than 3,777 on Monday numbers.

With inputs from Mumbai and Bengaluru Bureaus

Published on March 05, 2021

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