Another shot in the arm: West Bengal begins Covid jabs for elderly


West Bengal on Monday began vaccinating people above 60 years of age and those above 45 years of age with comorbidities in the third phase of the nationwide Covid-19 immunisation programme after two priority groups: health and frontline workers.

A total of 17,079 people were vaccinated on Monday with no case of adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) reported, said a health official adding that the new CoWIN-2 portal was plagued by glitches.

“The third phase of the Covid vaccination using the new portal version CoWIN-2 started today throughout the state. Besides health and frontline workers, and election officials, elderly people and those above 45 people with co-morbidities were vaccinated today. The portal issues were there, and the vaccination programme suffered because of that. So far, 17,079 were reported to be vaccinated, and there is no information of any AEFI case,” said the official.

People in the two age groups were given the Covid shots in at least 10 private and 15 government hospitals.

While people can register themselves at the portal and choose the Covid vaccination centres (CVCs) as per their convenience, many had to walk-in for registration due to glitches, said another health official. Sources said several beneficiaries on Monday visited hospitals after booking their slots on the CoWin 2.0 app.

At SSKM Hospital in Kolkata, beneficiaries were mostly registering on the spot. Many were made to wait. As per the official, the poll-bound state will have to complete the vaccination before the elections.

While vaccination is free at government hospitals, private hospitals will charge Rs 250 a dose for the two age groups.

“AMRI Hospitals started its drive for community vaccination along with the rest of the nation today at two of its CVCs in Dhakuria and Mukundapur,” said an hospital official. AMRI administered 147 shots to general people, including six to those with ailments, at its two CVCs.

“On Day 1, we faced some teething problems, but we are sure these will be sorted out within this week. Since this is the first such drive in India, all of us are learning at every step,” said Rupak Barua, Group CEO of AMRI Hospitals.
Barua highlighted the shortage of specially designed syringes.

“The syringe used for inoculation is a specially-designed one, which has a locking mechanism to prevent extraction of more than 0.5 ml of the vaccine. This syringe is provided by a handful of manufacturers, who are currently supplying only to the government. While we have been receiving syringes from the government for vaccination of healthcare and other frontline workers since January 16, we have to procure syringes ourselves for the community vaccination.

We are working on our supply chain. The government has assured us of all its support in this regard,” said Barua.

Meanwhile, West Bengal reported 198 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 5,75,316. As many as 10,268 have succumbed to the virus with no death reported since Sunday.

The state has 3,293 active cases while 5,61,755 Covid patients have been declared recovered since the outbreak started a year ago. The discharge rate stands at 97.64 per cent.

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