Centre sent fewer vaccine vials: Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee on Saturday told frontline Covid warriors at 207 Covid-19 vaccination centres that the state government could not vaccinate all 5.8 lakh health workers in Bengal at one go as the Centre did not send enough Covishield vaccines for two doses.
“The central government did not provide sufficient vaccines and I have requested them to send us the required consignment,” said the chief minister during a videoconference session where she spoke to those present in the vaccination centres on Saturday.
Senior government officials later told The Telegraph that the state uploaded a list of 5.8 lakh health workers of both state-run and private healthcare establishments, who were to be administered vaccine in the first phase, on the Centre’s server.
The Centre so far sent 6.89 lakh Covishield vaccines and directed the state to preserve the second dose of vaccines for those who get the first dose.
“In this scenario, we will take up vaccination of 3.44 lakh healthcare workers with the available vaccines. That’s why the chief minister tried to explain why all 5.8 lakh health workers could not be vaccinated from the beginning,” said a senior government official.
Another official explained that the state was expecting a supply of the next lot of vaccines by next week.
On the Day One of the vaccination drive, Mamata stressed again that she felt all people in the state should get vaccines free of cost before adding the state would provide free vaccines if the Centre didn't.
With elections nearing, the Mamata Banerjee government wants to carry out the vaccination drive in Bengal without a hitch. The performance on day one, however, was not as expected, said a source.
In Bengal, it was planned that 20,700 health workers would be administered vaccines on the first day from 207 vaccination camps but primary reports pointed out that only around 15,500 persons received shots on Saturday.
“The performance varied from district to district,” said a source before adding that the final count was likely to change as updates were still coming from districts.
For instance, Birbhum had 12 camps where 1,200 health workers were supposed to be vaccinated, but only 658 turned up. “We think some health workers were fearing adverse side-effects,” said a health official of Birbhum.
A senior state government official said if many health workers were reluctant to get the shot, they could be counselled. “Fear is common in the case of a new vaccine. I recall decades ago how we had to work hard to make people believe that polio drops did not cause trouble. The chief minister has also asked us to ensure that nobody spreads rumours during vaccination,” said an official.
Next week, vaccination will be taken up on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.