Covid: Prioritise second dose of vaccine, says government
The state government on Wednesday asked private hospitals to give priority to Covid vaccine recipients turning up for the second jab and administer the first dose only if enough doses are available.
Many private hospitals said they would stop giving the first dose from Thursday because of shortage.
Bengal received three lakh doses of Covishield and two lakh doses of Covaxin on Wednesday, but state health department officials said the stock would only last for about three days.
The government on Wednesday held a meeting with private healthcare institutes and told them that their priority should be the second dose.
“We have told the private hospitals to focus on the second dose and administer the first according to availability. The private hospitals have also been asked to send messages and call recipients of the second dose and give them slots on days when they could administer the dose,” said Joly Chaudhuri, the joint secretary of the state urban development department who chaired the meeting.
“We are asking recipients of the second dose to call our helpline if they are facing problems getting an appointment.”
Sources said the state government had also given the option to hospitals and other healthcare units to not conduct vaccination on Sundays and holidays because of shortage.
Several hospitals said they would not administer the first dose of a Covid vaccine on Thursday. Some others said they would not conduct vaccination on Thursday as it coincides with Poila Baisakh and also because of shortage of supply.
The RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences administered 218 first doses with Covaxin and only 72 second doses with Covishield. On Thursday, the hospital will only administer the second dose.
A limited number of first doses will be administered again on Friday subject to availability, officials of the hospital said.
“We have been advised to rationalise the use of vaccines because of a supply shortfall. The primary focus should be on the second dose and only a limited number of first doses will be administered,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director, Narayana Health, of which the RN Tagore hospital is a part.
Peerless Hospital will not conduct vaccination on Thursday because of a lack of supply. The hospital has around 4,000 people lined up for the second dose, most of whom had taken Covishield as the first dose.
“It’s our responsibility to ensure that those who have taken the first dose get the second dose, too. So, first doses will be administered again if we have enough supply,” said Sudipta Mitra, the chief executive of Peerless Hospital.
“Every day we are requesting the state government to give us enough doses. But we are getting inadequate doses because of shortage.”
AMRI Hospital’s Mukundapur unit administered the second dose to only 28 people on Wednesday and no one was given the first dose. The group’s Salt Lake unit could not conduct vaccination for the fifth consecutive day.
The Telegraph reported on Wednesday that hundreds of people who were scheduled to get the second dose were turned away by hospitals or asked not to visit the healthcare units because of shortage of vaccines.
The Covid vaccination for all senior citizens and people above 45 with comorbidities had started on March 1 and many of them are now eligible for the second dose. At most private healthcare units, Covishield was given as the first dose.
Only about 12 lakh of the targeted population of 3 crore in Bengal have got both doses.