Thousands of senior citizens across Bengal on Monday had to wait for hours or left without a jab from the hospital as the CoWin 2.0 app faced glitches on a day the central health ministry started vaccinating those above 60 and people aged above 45 years with comorbidities against Covid-19.
The vaccination of these select groups of citizens was kicked off when Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the jab at AIIMS in Delhi on Monday morning.
Sources said elderly people who wanted to get the jab at government hospitals had the option of walk-in registration, while those opting to take the vaccination at private facilities were directed to pre-register the names using the CoWin 2.0. Officials said as part of the process senior citizens aged over 60 started queuing up at various hospitals from Monday morning to register their names but glitches in the CoWin 2.0 app halted the programme.
“The government had directed that vaccination could be done only after registration through the CoWin 2.0 app. As a result, we asked the elderly people to wait. But when the glitches continued for over two and half hours, we requested them to return but that was protested by senior citizens,” said a health official in Birbhum.
Following the agitation, we got in touch with the state health department seeking their nod to carry out the process offline.
“At the day end, we received permission from the state to vaccinate the elderly people offline. Later we called them up again after 2.30 pm but the turnout was naturally low. We could vaccinate only 14 elderly people in the district on Monday against a target of 300,” said a senior health official in Birbhum.
Like Birbhum, health officials in districts like East Burdwan, Purulia and Bankura faced similar problems. Officials in those districts said there was no way other than sending back senior citizens because many of them were above 70 or 80 years.
“It was very inhuman for us to see very elderly people waiting at hospitals. Many of them started raising questions about why they were invited without preparation. What can I do? The CoWin 2.0 app did not work for the entire day,” said an official in Burdwan.
Swapan Kumar Mondal, 72, a retired police officer, reached Bolpur subdivisional hospital around 10.30pm. But he had to wait for around two hours and later left the hospital as his vaccination was not done. However, he was later informed over the phone and came back at around 4pm to get a jab.
“The nurses and health officials informed me about the problem. They asked me to go. I came again
as per request of the health staff. I understand the trouble but it is really a problem to visit a hospital
twice after waiting for two hours,” said Mondal.
Sources in the state health department said there was clear direction from the health ministry not to vaccinate anyone without registering through the app.
“However, we gave the permission after complaints from most hospitals started pouring in. We will conduct a meeting tonight to get rid of the glitches with the CoWin 2.0 app,” said a state health official.
No Covid death
Bengal on Monday, in a first since April last year, logged zero death from Covid-19. But the state logged 212 recoveries and 198 infections as a drop in its total active cases continued for the 126th consecutive day since Vijaya Dashami last year. The total of active cases, which was 37,190 on Dashami (October 26), has fallen to 3,293. “Even in December, there were 50-60 daily deaths across the state and 20-plus in Calcutta. From there, we have reached a stage of no death from Covid,” said a minister.