Science

Co-WIN bug, hesitancy mar vaccination drive

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on January 19, 2021

Covid-19 vaccine being administered at KC General Hospital in Bengaluru on Tuesday   -  Murali Kumar K

But officials expect drive to pick up soon

Glitches in Co-WIN platform and vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers have resulted in an unusually low pick-up in Covid vaccination in the country, said officials from the Centre and States on Tuesday.

“The main reason for our low vaccination numbers so far is problems relating to the Co-WIN platform. We are not able to create sessions on time and sometimes even after creating the sessions SMSes (text messages) do not reach many beneficiaries and as a result, they are not even aware that their turn for getting vaccinated has come,” said an official from Punjab, one of the States that has the lowest vaccination coverage at 27.9 per cent.

To stress this further, the official said the whole of Tuesday, the State authorities have not been to create sessions for Wednesday due to glitches in the Co-WIN platform. “Hopefully, our IT experts would be able to resolve the problem by evening so that the messages can go automatically to the beneficiaries whose sessions need to be scheduled on Wednesday,” the official told BusinessLine.

Vaccine hesitancy too is a problem, more among paramedical and other staff, while doctors are coming forward to get themselves vaccinated, he said.

Problems in scheduling

An Assam government official, involved in Covid vaccination, said the turnout was only 50 per cent for several reasons, the dysfunctional Co-WIN portal being the main one. “We are not in a position to create sessions (using Co-WIN) for scheduling vaccination well in advance. Sometimes, the messages go to people (who need to be come to the site for vaccination) in the morning on the day they need to be vaccinated. It is too late for them to come forward to take the vaccine shot,” he said.

“People should know at least a day in advance about their turn to get vaccinated,” he said.

Briefing the media here, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, admitted that the progress of vaccination was slow in some States namely Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Punjab where the vaccination coverage was less than 40 per cent of what was intended. He, however, said, on the whole, a good pick-up is expected in the coming days, pointing out that other countries have done less number of vaccination on the first day as compared to India.

While India vaccinated 2,07,229 beneficiaries on the first day of the vaccination rollout, the numbers achieved by the UK and the US were 19,700 and 79,458 respectively, Bhushan said.

Vinod Paul, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, also the chairman of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of Covid-19, hinted that vaccine hesitancy is a problem. He exhorted health care workers to come forward to get vaccinated and said their not doing so would send wrong signals to the public at large.

Safest vaccines

Both Bhushan and Paul stressed that both vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — approved for restricted use in emergency situation in the country are by far the safest Covid-19 vaccines without only 0.002 per cent among the vaccinated requiring hospitalisation. Serious adverse events following immunisation in vaccines approved in other countries is as high as 0.6 per cent, Paul, who also received his first dose of Covaxin, said.

On why there were fewer takers for Covaxin in the country, Bhusan said it was because of multiple reasons. Firstly, fewer doses were available for distribution and more importantly which vaccine is to be given to whom is a decision taken totally by the States and not by the Centre.

Meanwhile, the Power Ministry, in a letter written to State Energy Secretaries to ensure uninterrupted power supply to cold chain points and vaccination session sites saying the success of the immunisation drive will depend on that.

Published on January 19, 2021

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