Vaccine Woes, Again: WB, Punjab, Jharkhand, Others Face Shortages
Many states are witnessing a vaccine paucity, derailing the envisioned inoculation policy
As Indian recovers from the devastation of the second wave of COVID-19, administrations of several states including Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Assam have apprised the central government of vaccine shortages, once again.
Last month, after a sudden shift in the vaccine eligibility criteria, many stated faced crippling shortage, and floated global tenders for vaccines.
On 21 June, the Union government had implemented a revised vaccine policy for inoculating all above the age of 18 for free.
Under this policy, 75 percent of the vaccine doses manufactured are being procured by the Centre and are given to the states for free.
However, many are witnessing a vaccine paucity again, derailing the envisioned inoculation policy.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday, 29 June, had urged the central government to send more doses of COVID-19 vaccines, stating that Punjab was out of Covishield, and had limited availability of Covaxin doses.
A statement from the Punjab administration noted, "With the state running out of Covishield and a Covaxin stock of just 1,12,821 doses, the CM has reiterated the demand for supply of more vaccines by the Centre to vaccinate the entire 18-45 population to complete the vaccination in the next 2 months," ANI reported.
According to news agency PTI, state officials flagged the gross shortage of vaccines in the state, and reported that at the end of Tuesday, only 1,12,821 doses of Covaxin were left.
On Wednesday, 30 June, West Bengal Chief Minister also apprised the media of a vaccine paucity.
"We got 1.99 crore vaccine doses and we have administered 1.90 crore doses. Today, we don't have vaccines so we are giving only second dose in Kolkata. States that are smaller than West Bengal have got more vaccine doses than us," ANI reported the minister as saying.
A report by Hindustan Times stated that the government of West Bengal has notified all state-run hospitals and district officials to hold back 50 percent of doses for the second shot.
A senior health official told the news publication, “Due to acute shortage of vaccine, second dose will be given priority until we receive adequate quantity of vaccines. We are now left with only around 600,000 doses."
The state's health minister Banna Gupta spoke to ANI on Wednesday, and said that the state was witnessing an acute shortage.
"There is a shortage of vaccines in the state. We've requested the Government of India to give vaccines so that we can inoculate our people and save them from the potential third wave of COVID," the minister said.
Visuals of unoccupied vaccination centres emerged from Ranchi, as local residents waited outside.
A local said urged the government to make "proper arrangements for the vaccination of people," ANI reported.
According to National Health Mission (NHM) data, the state of Jharkhand was left with only 35,000 doses of vaccines after vaccination centres closed on Tuesday, The Telegraph reported.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot wrote, "In comparison to other states, vaccine hesitancy in Rajasthan is the lowest, a result of our efforts. The Government of India should take all these aspects into consideration and supply vaccines according to our need."
Saying that the state of Rajasthan is likely to see a shortage in July, he added, “In the entire country, we were the first who took the lead and, as a result of that, 75 lakh second doses are due in July. But, the Centre has decided to supply only 65 lakh doses, which is quite less."
Gehlot, therefore, urged the centre to provide 1.5 crore doses in July.
"(Or) we will not be able to give first and second doses," he wrote.
Meanwhile, in the state's capital city Jaipur, majority of vaccination centres were closed for a second consecutive day on Tuesday, Times of India reported.
In Maharashtra, a vaccination centre in Nagpur was shut owing to the paucity, ANI reported.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday, too, stated that inoculation centres run by the state and the BMC will be closed on Thursday.
Other districts including Ahmednagar, Beed, Sangli and Raigad also exhausted their stock of Covishield doses on Tuesday, state health department officials said.
However, they said that while the daily vaccination count dipped to 3.72 lakh doses in contrast to the 7 lakh doses administered some days ago, the state expects delivery of additional nine lakh doses of Covishield by 2 July, the Indian Express reported.
A visual of a deserted vaccination station in Guwahati also suggested a vaccine shortage in the state.
A local told ANI, "We are here to take our second dose of vaccine. We were given an appointment for today (via message) but when we came here we have been told that there is no vaccine."
(With inputs from ANI, PTI, Times of India, Indian Express)
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