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Days of zero demand for Covid jabs in Kolkata hospitals

The poor demand has prompted the hospitals to decide against procuring fresh doses at least in near future

Sanjay Mandal | Published 20.09.22, 07:03 AM
An empty vaccination centre at RN Tagore hospital on Monday afternoon

An empty vaccination centre at RN Tagore hospital on Monday afternoon

Telegraph picture

Covid vaccination is down to zero on several days at many hospitals across Kolkata, the first such drop since the inoculation drive started early last year.

The poor demand has prompted the hospitals to decide against procuring fresh doses at least in the near future.

A senior health department official said that with Covid cases on the wane, many people are not interested in getting the booster dose or even the second jab.

“It has been observed that whenever there is a fresh Covid wave, people queue up for the jab. Once cases go down, the rush for vaccine reduces to a trickle,” he said.

On Monday, September 19, West Bengal recorded 139 new Covid cases. Across the state, according to the health department, 3,772 doses of Covid vaccines were administered.

A year ago, on September 19, 2021, the state had recorded 635 new cases.

“The Covid vaccination drive was at its peak then and as many as 12.78 lakh vaccine doses were administered on September 19 last year,” said a health department official.

Till Monday, 7,30,03,295 people have taken at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. However, only 1,47,94,303 have taken the precautionary or third dose.

Which means 5,82,08,992 people who have taken at least the first dose have not yet completed their vaccination schedule.

The vaccination drive had started in January 2021 with healthcare workers receiving the jabs first.

From March 1 that year, the vaccines were made available for all people suffering from comorbidities and above the age of 60.

Peerless Hospital, for the first time since the drive had started, had zero footfall on Sunday.

“Usually we have maximum footfall on Saturdays and Sundays. But this Sunday we did not have a single recipient,” said Sudipta Mitra, chief executive of Peerless Hospital.

The hospital still has 800 doses of Covishield and 200 doses of Covaxin.

“Even the vaccine camps we are organising are not finding many takers. We’ll not procure any more vaccines unless the government asks us to,” Mitra said.

The RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences is also trying to use up the remaining stocks of Covishield by organising freecamps through NGOs.

The hospital’s Covaxin stocks were exhausted a few days back.

“There was hardly any demand for the vaccine at our hospital in the last 10 days. On several days no one turned up. We have around 300 doses of Covishield and are arranging camps, which is the only way to utilise the doses,” said R. Venkatesh, COO, east and south, Narayana Health, which runs the RN Tagore hospital.

“One such camp is scheduled for September 26. We’ll not place further orders as of now.”

The hospital had last placed its Covishield order — 2,000 doses — in June. At Charnock Hospital, Covid vaccines were administered on only one day in the past 10 days.

“There were no recipients on the other days,” Ipsita Kundu, CEO of Charnock Hospital, said.

“We have just 10 doses of Covaxin left. Once these are administered, we do not plan to procure fresh stocks because of lack of demand.”

Belle Vue Clinic had 11 recipients on Monday, compared with more than 300 a day when the vaccination was at its peak.

“We had last purchased Covid vaccines in April 2021. Gradually, the demand has gone down. In July, the government of India replaced the old doses with fresh ones,” said Pradip Tondon, CEO of Belle Vue.

He, too, said the hospital was not planning to buy fresh stocks in the near future.

Last updated on 20.09.22, 07:03 AM
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