Maharashtra: Vaccination for 18-44 age group to continue, but only Covishield for now

The BMC is likely to reserve a couple of days in the coming week only for second dose vaccinations. The civic body is likely to release the guidelines for the same on Wednesday.

After the state government’s directive to divert all Covaxin stocks intended for the age group of 18 to 44 to the second dose of vaccination for those aged above 45, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said it would continue to vaccinate the younger age group with Covishield.

The BMC is likely to reserve a couple of days in the coming week only for second dose vaccinations. The civic body is likely to release the guidelines for the same on Wednesday.

State Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Tuesday directed all centres across the state to divert the Covid-19 vaccine procured for inoculating those between the age of 18 and 44 to 45+ beneficiaries waiting to get their second shots.

Guardian Minister Aaditya Thackeray, municipal commissioner IS Chahal and additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani held a meeting to discuss third-wave preparation, second dose for the eligible citizens and strategy for better communication and booking of slots for people who are not tech-savvy, on Tuesday.

“While we explore possibilities of globally procuring vaccines and also increasing vaccination centres to have one in every municipal ward, the road map for administering the second shot for every age group will be published soon,” tweeted Thackeray.

Several citizens expressed anger and frustration at not being able to take their second jab even six-seven weeks after receiving their first shot. Many senior citizens had said the administration should prioritise vaccination of people due for a second dose and pause the drive for the under-45 age group until the vaccine supply is streamlined. Meanwhile, miscommunication regarding appointment booking for the 45+ age group angered the citizens on Tuesday. The civic body till late in the night had not published the centres which will be functional on Wednesday to administer vaccines to the age group. The vaccination is likely to start post noon on Wednesday.

BMC on Tuesday night tweeted, “We regret the miscommunication in slot booking announcements today. There have been server issues leading to uncertainty in slot creation and publishing too. It will be fixed soon. Please keep a check on http://cowin.gov.in for 45+ slots now, being published. Details to follow.”

Two days after the civic body halted administering Covaxin to beneficiaries owing to a shortage, 21 centres, including the Nesco and Dahisar Jumbo facility, resumed administering the vaccine on Tuesday. BMC said that each centre will get 250 doses of Covaxin.

Citing the unavailability of the Covid-19 vaccine, developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), BMC had stopped administering Covaxin from Sunday, causing worry among citizens waiting for their second doses. Out of the total 190 vaccination centres in the city, 91 were functional on Tuesday, including 10 centres for the 18 to 44 age group.

Currently, the BMC has 20,000 doses of Covaxin. Biswajit Manna, who has been trying to get the second dose of Covaxin for his 70-year-old father for the past five days, said, “BMC’s tweet in the morning (Tuesday) mentioned that each centre will get 250 doses. However, the centre had received only 30 doses. I could secure the second dose for my father because I stood in the line from 7:45 am on Tuesday for the vaccination, which was to begin at 12.”

Citing inconvenience to senior citizens, and those who are not technologically savvy, MLA Amin Patel has written to the municipal commissioner, IS Chahal, asking to allow walk-in facility to the vaccination centres on alternate days. “The current system of no-walk-in is hurting the locals unable to book slots online,” read the letter.

On Tuesday, 5430 citizens received Covaxin. Of these, 4067 citizens received the second dose of the vaccine.

On Tuesday, the number of people who received the jab had dropped to 26,015, which included 5,143 in the 18 to 44 age group. To date, 20.80 lakh people have received the first dose and 6.77 lakh citizens have received both doses.

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