NEW DELHI: While the central and state governments urged people to get themselves vaccinated given the surge of Covid-19 in China, Delhiites might have to wait for a few more days to get their precautionary jab at government vaccination centres. Only 11 such centres in the capital’s 11 districts provide free jabs and they are running short of the vaccines.
According to some officials working in district health departments, the demand for vaccines fell after September and there were hardly any takers for the precautionary third dose. A health officer from West district said, “People saw that there were hardly any cases of infection, so the vaccination centres were not crowded. The medical staff remained unoccupied, so the decision was taken to divert them for other health programmes. And then the schools reopened, all centres operating from schools had to shut down.”
The shortage of booster doses in government hospitals indicates a gap between policy and practice. The government should ensure that the vaccine is available so that its own decision can be implemented.TimesView
Another district official also noted that owing to the low turnout of people wanting vaccination, there was more supply than demand, resulting in wastage of vaccines. “Nobody was really interested in taking the third dose. So vaccination centres started closing down around two months ago. Then the government got busy with the MCD election,” said the official. “However, after the news of a Covid upsurge in China, people are showing interest in getting the jab and Delhi government has ordered more doses. It should be available in government centres from the first week of January.”
The scarcity of vaccines in government facilities has put low-income families at a disadvantage. “This is a familiar disconnect between what is promised and what is delivered in government health services,” rued Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, public health specialist. The private hospitals, though fewer in numbers, are continuing with the vaccination. While most of them are administering both Covaxin and Covishield, some are also offering Corbevax and Covovax vaccines.
“We have enough stock of both Covishield and Corbevax and booster doses. If the demand rises, we are geared up to meet the need,” said Dr Jyoti Mishra, medical superintendent and unit head, Akash Healthcare. “We are also planning to bring our vaccination programme up to speed. We have a well-maintained system to store the vaccines safely and we have a team to ensure there is no wastage of vaccines. Currently, people are going to government dispensaries for free vaccination, but if the demand increases, our hospital is ready to meet the needs of society.”