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Covid: Vaccine shortage triggers protests at several jab centres

According to sources, the hospital has a capacity to administer shots to 500 , but over 2,000 people turned up after getting auto-generated text alerts for second dose

Our Bureau Malda, Alipurduar, Santipur, Hooghly Published 29.06.21, 12:57 AM
People demonstrate at a vaccination centre in Nadia’s Santipur on Monday.

People demonstrate at a vaccination centre in Nadia’s Santipur on Monday. Subhasish Chaudhuri

Protests at several vaccination centres erupted in both south and north Bengal on Monday as jabs fell short of demand.

At least five persons, including a woman, received minor injuries when around 2,000 people, who had come for their second dose of the vaccine, rushed towards a counter at a rural hospital in Hooghly’s Singur.


Sources said the hospital had the capacity to administer vaccines to 500 people, but over 2,000 people turned up after getting auto-generated text alerts for the second dose from the government server.

“I came here on getting the alert but faced a free-for-all when the counter opened. Many got injured amid the pushing and shoving. I left,” said a retired school teacher.

The chaos alarmed hospital authorities and a police team from Singur controlled the situation. The cops asked 500 people to queue up, which left many people fuming.

In Nadia’s Santipur, 200 people staged a demonstration at the state general hospital when authorities at the vaccination centre failed to give them a second dose of Covishield. People, mostly the aged, alleged they were scheduled to get the jab and had queue up from dawn, but the hospital authorities around 10am said they couldn’t give the jabs.

An agitation erupted at Ranaghat subdivisional hospital after the hospital issued registration slips to only 100 beneficiaries though over 500 persons were waiting. Then, 100 more slips were issued.

Hospital superintendent Shayamal Kumar Porey said most were eligible for the second dose. “We have limited supply of vaccines and advised them not to panic as there is no harm in getting the jab a few days though 84 days have passed since their first dose.”

It was a similar situation at a Jhargram public health centre after authorities told people they had only 150 vials and would not be able to vaccinate everyone present.

Protests erupted in at least two locations of Alipurduar district as hundreds who turned up at two health centres for Covid-19 vaccination had to return without getting the shot. In Kalchini block’s Jaigaon town on the India-Bhutan border, over 100 people, mostly senior citizens, did not get the second dose though around 90 days had passed since their first dose.

“I received my first dose (Covishield) on March 24 and the health staff had told me I will get the second after 84 days. Today, I told them that 90 days have passed. They asked me to visit the centre after a couple of days. It is nothing but harassment for elderly persons like us,” said Ramprasad Sharma, 65.

Many protested in front of the centre, wielding certificates of the first dose. Health officials of the block had to intervene and bring the situation under control.

“In Kalchini block, we are vaccinating potential super-spreaders. People should understand that the second dose can be administered between 84 and 112 days after the first dose. They need not panic,” said Subhash Kumar Karmakar, block medical officer of health of Kalchini.

Around 200 women of Alipurduar-II block, who are mothers of children aged 12 years or below, and priority candidates for the jab for to ensure the safety of the children before the likely third wave of the pandemic, had to return home without getting the first dose. On Sunday, they had been told by ICDS centres about getting the first dose on Monday. Around 1,000 women reached the primary health centre of the block at Jashordanga, many from 5am. “We waited for hours but many of us did not get the jab,” said Sabita Debnath, a resident.

Some women got agitated amid the delay and tried to enter the centre. Health staff called up the police who rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.

Tanmoy Debnath, the block medical health officer, said overcrowding hampered the vaccination process. “We hope the situation will improve from Tuesday,” he said.

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