Calcuttans stuck for a visa to Africa or South America because of a month-long shortage of the yellow fever vaccine could rejoice as an imported consignment has been arranged to tide over the crisis.
Regular vaccination resumed after over 10,500 doses from France and the World Health Organization (WHO) reached Calcutta in July-end.
The vaccine was unavailable across the country since mid-June, forcing travellers to postpone their trips.
None of the three authorised centres in Calcutta — the airport, Marine House in Hastings and the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health — had the vaccine in their stock and were forced to turn away travellers.
The directorate general of health services had instructed the centres to administer the dose if the traveller brought the vaccine, even though all pharmacies in the city were out of stock.
The fresh stock is expected to last a year and six months. The airport and Marine House received 5,000 doses each, while the other centre got 500.
The cost per shot at these centres is Rs 300.
But the arrangement is temporary. The Central Research Institute in Kasauli, the sole manufacturer of yellow fever shots in the country, has been closed for the past year and no one knows when it will be up and running.
Yellow fever, an acute viral disease caused by female mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti), is endemic to tropical regions of Africa and South America but not Asia.
Vaccination is mandatory for those applying for a visa to these destinations since the disease has a high mortality rate of over 50 per cent.
The Kasauli unit was closed a year ago because of a machine breakdown and the maintenance agency had said the 30-year-old equipment has become irreparable.
A Union health ministry source said an agency has been appointed and repairs had “recently started”.
The shortage forced the government to procure 7,000 units from France and another consignment from WHO.
“We were waiting for the annual WHO supply but it was getting delayed. So we decided to procure an emergency stock from France,” a senior health ministry official told Metro from New Delhi.
Ministry officials said they were expecting more supplies from WHO until the defunct Kasauli unit is repaired.
“We hope the manufacturing unit in Kasauli is repaired at the earliest to ensure a regular supply of the vaccine,” said Girish Kumar Pandey, the director of the All India Institute of Health and Public Hygiene.
The unit used to produce about one-third of the total annual requirement.