Many Covid vaccination centres down shutters across Bengal
Half the Covid vaccination centres across Bengal, including those in Calcutta, were closed on Monday because of unavailability of doses and the latest change to the Covishield dosing schedule.
Many people were inconvenienced as they visited the centres amid the state-wide “lockdown” only to find the doors closed.
Officials said there were about 3,500 private and government-run vaccination centres across the state. On Monday, a little more than 1,700 were functional. Around 60,000 people received the jabs till the evening.
“There were two reasons why so many vaccination centres were closed on Monday. One is lack of enough doses and the Centre’s inability to send fresh supplies. The other is the Centre’s latest decision on the Covishield dosing schedule, which says the second dose should be administered 12-16 weeks after the first,” said a health department official.
“We are almost out of stock. Only a small number of Covaxin doses are left, which will last for a day or two. The entire Covishield stock has been exhausted. It does not make sense to administer Covaxin to a handful of people at all the centres because that would have led to law and order issues.”
The Centre, the official said, will get seven to eight lakh doses by the end of this month. “But it is not clear when those consignments will start coming,” the official said.
“Those who had booked appointments for the Covishield second dose on the CoWin portal before May 13 got it even before 12 weeks from the first dose. Now, one cannot book a slot for the second dose before 12 weeks,” the official said.
The CMC administered Covaxin from about 16 of the 144 clinics on Monday. Almost all the recipients had taken their first dose at private hospitals.
“The queue is short. People can come, wait for a short period, take the vaccine and leave,” said an official of the CMC.
The CMC clinics were also given a limited number of Covishield vials but there were only a few recipients. “Only those who took their first doses in February and missed the second can take the second dose of Covishield now. That number is very low,” the official said.
Besides, if four or five people are turning up to take the second dose of Covishield, the CMC is taking down their names and phone numbers but not administering the jab.
“One vial can vaccinate 10 people. If we open a vial for five people, the remaining five doses will go to waste. So we are taking down the phone numbers of these people. We will call them when we will have nine or 10 recipients of Covishield,” the official said.
Many people in Calcutta who had taken the first dose of Covishield went to CMC clinics for the second dose but found many of the centres closed. Notices asking recipients to come after 12 weeks from the first dose were put up at the centres.
An elderly couple in Tangra had gone to the CMC Ward 58 office on Monday to take their second dose of Covishield but found it closed.
"When we had taken the first dose of Covishield, we were asked to return on May 13. When we went to the CMC clinic that day, we were told to come back on May 17 because the interval was extended to 45 days," said the wife, who is around 65.
“We walked to the clinic on Monday but it was closed with a notice asking the Covishield second dose recipients to revisit after 84 days from the first dose,” she said.
Many recipients alleged that there was no way to know whether a particular government centre was administering vaccines. When people are calling up private hospitals, they are being told to wait or being given a list of government vaccination centres.
An official of the CMC said they did not have the data of people who took their first dose from private hospitals, as a result of which they were not able to inform these people.
As for those who took their first dose at CMC clinics, the civic body would make announcements in neighbourhoods from autos about the revised guideline.