Many people eligible for the Covid vaccine booster dose have not taken the shot because they said they had not received any message from the CoWIN app after the completion of nine months from the second dose.
A number of them have told hospitals that they were not sure about their eligibility for the third — or booster — dose. They said the uptick in Covid cases prompted them to check whether it was possible to get the third shot.
The surge in vaccine footfall at private hospitals could be because of the sudden rise in Covid cases, said officials.
Bengal recorded 295 new cases on Friday, the highest in four months. The number was 230 on Wednesday and 198 on Thursday.
Many of these recipients, hospital officials said, had not received any alert from the CoWIN portal.
“We have received complaints from people who have completed nine months after the second dose of their Covid vaccine but did not receive any message from CoWIN about their eligibility for the third,” said a senior official of the state health department.
“There are several issues, including technical ones (for the failure to send third-dose alerts). Besides, some recipients may have changed their phone numbers.”
On Friday, health secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam held a meeting with health officials of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and the districts.
The meeting decided that the authorities would conduct door-to-door visits to find out how many people above 60 have not taken the precautionary dose.
Those who have become eligible for the third dose but have not yet received any message from CoWIN will be urged to take the shot, said an official.
Baghajatin resident Soumya Sankar Dey and his wife had taken their second dose of Covishield at the end of August in 2021.
“I didn’t get any message from CoWIN about the booster shot. Now that Covid cases are rising, I went to the hospital (RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences) today to check whether we could take the third dose,” Dey said.
“Officials at the hospital said we could. We’ll go tomorrow to take the third dose.”
R. Venkatesh, regional director, east and south, Narayana Health, which runs the RN Tagore hospital, said in the last one week around 25 people had visited the hospital who had completed nine months after the second dose but did not get any message for the third.
“We are checking the records and administering the third dose to those who are eligible.”
The hospital has seen an uptick in vaccine footfall over the last week.
“Earlier, 40 to 50 people were turning up every day for the shot. The figure has risen to 100 on weekdays. On Saturday, it was more than 200,” said Venkatesh.
Sudipta Mitra, chief executive of Peerless Hospital, said they administered 175 Covid shots on Friday.
“The daily count was not even touching 40 a few days back. Many are saying they were not coming for the precautionary (booster) dose because they had not received any alert. However, with fresh cases going up, they want to check their eligibility and take the vaccine at the earliest,” he said.