Jaipur: Rajasthan, which until a fortnight back was administering 5 lakh Covid vaccine shots a day, is now facing a shortage of the doses.
Between 1 March and 12 April, the state claims, it had vaccinated over 1 crore people. It also maintained a leading position, among the larger states in the country, on the vaccination charts with a high inoculation percentage.
But Rajasthan’s daily vaccination numbers have since dipped — to as low as 1.1 lakh once last week — from its target of 5 lakh per day. The state is now administering around 2 lakh to 2.5 lakh vaccines daily, and at this rate, officials told ThePrint, Rajasthan is now left with only three more days’ vaccine stocks.
And in this scenario, the Centre’s announcement to open vaccination for everyone above the age of 18 from 1 May has added to the Ashok Gehlot government’s worries.
Health Minister Raghu Sharma blamed the Central government for failing to provide adequate supply of vaccines, and accused it of playing “politics”.
“We were going at a very good speed and had managed to vaccinate over 1 crore people between 1 March and 12 April,” Sharma told ThePrint, adding that the Union government’s delay in providing adequate supply of vaccines is among the biggest challenges Rajasthan is facing in its attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19.
According to government data, as of 20 April, Rajasthan had administered a total of 1,15,55,568 doses, with 98,68,252 people having received the first shot and 16,87,316 people both shots. Jaipur is the district with the maximum number of vaccinated people, followed by Nagaur, Alwar and Jodhpur. Districts that are lagging behind include Pratapgarh, Jaisalmer, Tonk and Sirohi where less than 2 lakh people each have been vaccinated.
“We received 5 lakh doses over the weekend, and a week ago the Centre had sent 9 lakh doses, so we have received 14 lakh doses over the past one week,” state immunisation officer Raghuraj Singh told ThePrint.
The state vaccinated over 2.8 lakh people Monday, while the number of those who received the shots Tuesday was 2.32 lakh.
If this rate is maintained, the state now has “only three days’ stock left”, said Singh.
Rajasthan is not being able to administer even 5 lakh doses a day, even though the state administration claims it can vaccinate 7 lakh people every day if the supplies are adequate.
“Even though we have received some doses in the past one week, we have not been able to maintain our target of vaccinating 5 lakh people daily, which we were doing earlier,” Health Minister Raghu Sharma said.
According to a report on daily vaccinations, accessed by ThePrint, the number of doses administered on 11, 12 and 13 April was 1.1 lakh, 2 lakh and 1.48 lakh, respectively.
Sharma said he had repeatedly taken up the issue of vaccine shortage with Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, both during video conferences and through letters. “I have called the health minister, written to him and even took it [the shortage of vaccine doses] up during a video conference held two days ago between Harsh Vardhan ji and 11 states to discuss Covid-19 management,” he told ThePrint.
In a letter dated 19 April, addressed to Rajasthan Health Secretary Siddharth Mahajan, the Union Ministry of Health of Family and Welfare asked the state to “undertake necessary corrective actions for improving the performance of Covid-19 vaccination drive”.
The letter, accessed by ThePrint, however, also highlighted how the state’s vaccination average is higher than the national average.
According to the letter, a total of 1,27,62,360 doses have been made available to the state and the total consumption has been 1,18,72,607 doses (including wastage).
The letter said how 92.92 per cent of registered healthcare workers have been given the first dose, as compared to the national average of 87.03 per cent. As against the national average of 75.16 per cent, 66.15 per cent have received the second dose in the state.
Similarly, among frontline workers, Rajasthan has 89.82 per cent beneficiaries who have received the first dose, as compared to the national average of 75.76 per cent. The corresponding figures for those who got the second dose are 59.61 per cent and 35.04 per cent, respectively.
Even the percentage of people to have been vaccinated in the over 45 years category, in Rajasthan, stands at 49.51 per cent, in comparison to the national average of 25.52 per cent, according to the letter.
‘No vaccine available’
It was on 9 March that Rajasthan first voiced concern over inadequate vaccine supply. The state had to consequently stop administering the first round of doses, and it was forced to put up posters of “no vaccine available” at many vaccination centres.
“We didn’t have an option but to put notices outside centres and asking those who had come to be vaccinated to return,” a vaccination officer in Jaipur’s Gandhinagar told ThePrint, on condition of anonymity.
There are currently 3,726 vaccination centres across the state. “The number varies, however, as it depends on the availability of vaccine doses,” the immunisation officer said.
In a statement to the media Tuesday, Chief Minister Gehlot, responding to the Union government’s decision to open vaccination for anyone above 18 years of age from May, said “first the Centre should ensure availability of enough vaccine” doses. He also said the vaccine distribution system “should be transparent”.
According to data accessed from the census department of the state, Rajasthan has 3.13 crore people aged between 18 and 44 years, who will be eligible for vaccination from 1 May. Data available with the state health department shows that the largest percentage of population to have been vaccinated as of 19 April belongs to the above-60 category — a total of 1.13 crore people.
“If we are to vaccinate the entire 18-45-year-old population, according to the latest central guidelines, we will need at least two months to cover them all, even if we vaccinate 5 lakh people daily. We can’t afford any delay,” Raghu Sharma, told ThePrint.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
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