Devarshi Mani Tewari, 27, a resident of Lucknow’s Gomtinagar had a smooth experience getting vaccinated for Covid-19 at a government facility, Saturday, the first day of the immunisation drive for the 18-44 age group.
But in Mumbai, Aldridge Alvarez, who had lined up outside a vaccination centre, wasn’t sure when his chance would come.
The Covid vaccination drive for adults got off to a bittersweet start across India. While Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were among the states that didn’t start the drive, citing unavailability of vaccines, Uttar Pradesh rolled it out in seven districts with over 9,000 active cases (Lucknow, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Meerut, Bareilly, Varanasi and Gorakhpur).
Vaccination began in Maharashtra capital Mumbai as well, but it wasn’t altogether smooth on Day One.
In Delhi, there were instances of people still struggling to book a slot on the CoWin portal, even as others were able to secure some with private hospitals like Max and Apollo. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the capital would launch the drive Monday.
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Approximately 3,000 slots were registered for the first day of the drive in Lucknow, with officials referring to the exercise as “token vaccination”.
“We have made 10 centre for 18-44 age group vaccination. All are in government hospitals. We are giving Covaxin today. As of now, data has not been collected,” Lucknow Additional Chief Medical Officer M.K. Singh told ThePrint when asked about the number of people vaccinated.
Devarshi Mani Tewari, a resident of Gomtinagar, got his first shot at the government-run RML hospital.
“It was a well-managed system there because only 200 slots were booked for first the day, so there was no long queue, and it was being done easily,” he said. “I had some fear in my mind before going to the hospital but after the vaccination I am feeling better.”
In Ayodhya, only those aged 45 and above — for whom immunisation was rolled out 1 April — were vaccinated Saturday. The drive was not expanded to younger age groups because of an inadequate number of vaccines, officials said.
“In Ayodhya, we will start vaccinating 18+ group starting next week. Only a few UP districts have received the vaccine supply for vaccinating those above 18 years,” a senior government official in Ayodhya district, who did not want to be named, told ThePrint.
In Varanasi, by 3.30 pm, more than 450 people had been vaccinated at the Mahila Chikitsalaya in Varanasi.
“This is a huge number. People are coming in overwhelming numbers,” said one of the officials at the registration desk, adding that nearly 70 people were waiting in a queue as they spoke.
At the Banaras Hindu University vaccination centre, 150 people in the 18+ bracket were vaccinated in three hours. District administration officials said people across age groups were turning up in huge numbers for the drive, and they had to turn many away owing to limited stocks.
Varun Kumar, a local resident, said he came to the centre directly after not being able to book a slot on CoWin. “There were some glitches online, so I decided to come to the centre directly. There is panic all around. It is better to get vaccinated as soon as possible. But I am told they only have limited stock for us,” he said.
According to district health data, 3,000 people in the 18-45 age group were vaccinated Saturday.
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In Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) initiated the rollout in five vaccination centres. These were BYL Nair at Mumbai Central, RN Cooper in Juhu, BKC jumbo centre in Bandra, Rajawadi in Ghatkopar, and SevenHills in Andheri. Each was allotted 200 vaccine doses.
A large queue had formed at the Rajawadi centre in Ghatkopar when ThePrint visited Saturday. About 80 beneficiaries were waiting to receive the first dose of the vaccine. Most had booked a slot after the BMC tweeted late Friday night that it would be opening up vaccinations for 18-44-year-olds in select centres.
“The registration was a little difficult because you keep logging in and it keeps logging out. We booked the slots at 2 am. When we saw on social media that BMC is giving vaccination for 18+ at 5 hospitals across Mumbai, we just wanted to take a chance and we were trying again and again and luckily we go it over here at Rajawadi hospital,” Mumbai resident Krina Shah said.
The vaccination process, however, wasn’t without glitches. At the centre in Ghatkopar, ThePrint came across several beneficiaries who had been waiting since morning.
“I stay in Rajawadi and I chose this centre because I stay close by. But when I came here, they said they will not start without (completing) the morning batch. People have been waiting for quite some time and there’s no clarity as of now. They are saying they have opened up the lines, but I don’t know whether we will get the vaccines or not,” Aldridge Alvarez said.
Dr Vidya Thakur, Medical Superintendent at the Seth VC Gandhi & MA Vora Municipal General Hospital, where the Rajawadi centre in located, said all preparations for the third phase had to be made overnight.
“We were told about this last night at 10.30. On the WhatsApp group, we had immediately called all the sisters, general coordinators and the nodal officer, security. We had a conference call and meeting,” she said. “Everyone was relaxed for three days, because the (vaccination) drive was at a halt (owing to shortage).”
Inputs from Jyoti Yadav, Moushumi Das Gupta, Prashant Srivastava, Angana Chakrabarti, Rishika Sadam
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)
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