Maharashtra: Vaccination centres to soon run in evening shifts

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AS MANY as 40 private and government hospitals in Mumbai will be ready to vaccinate senior citizens and those aged above 45 with co-morbidities from Thursday. The state government is also gearing up to run vaccination centres in evening shifts to meet the strong demand, after the Health Ministry said centres could run for 24 hours if staff was readily available.

“Yes, we are planning shifts and may extend it based on demand,” said Dr Pradeep Vyas, state health secretary, but he added that it would not be possible to carry out vaccination 24 hours.

Dr Archana Patil, director (family welfare), Directorate of Health Services, said evening shifts would be more in demand at urban centres than rural.

On Wednesday, Maharashtra immunised 41,240 people, out of whom 27,842 were senior citizens and people aged above 45 with co-morbidities. The number was higher than the previous two days. So far, Maharashtra has vaccinated over 57,000 people from this pool.

With the CoWIN software working relatively smoothly, centres were able to immunise more people on the third day. Dr Rajesh Dere, dean of the centre at Bandra Kurla Complex, said there was no crowding and over 3,000 people could be immunised a day.

At the NESCO centre, Dr Neelam Andrade said they had modified the process and were disbursing tokens outside the centre to reduce crowding inside. “We continue to see more walk-in registrations than pre-booked appointments,” she said.

With the Health Ministry approving 29 private hospitals to run vaccination centres in Mumbai, 13 are set to begin from Thursday, easing the pressure on government vaccination centres, and making next-day appointments within reach. Private hospitals have been given a maximum of 2,000 doses. They can charge a maximum of Rs 250 per dose from recipients, but there is no clarity on whether they can charge for treatment of any cases of severe adverse event following immunisation (AEFI), which could require hospitalisation. It is free at government hopsitals.

The BMC also plans to allow dialysis centres to carry out vaccinations in a bid to support renal disease patients unable to stand in queues for long. So far, two centres are under consideration to begin vaccination.

Civic officials said all designated vaccination centres must have a room to vaccinate, waiting area, observation area and experts to manage adverse events following immunisation. Several patient requiring dialysis support have demanded a separate queue at centres. With centres seeing massive numbers, physically disabled and visually challenged people have stayed away.

“We will definitely plan something for those in need of high support system. We advise extremely old people and those with serious ailments to wait for few days, let the crowd thin out and then book a slot,” said immunisation officer Dr Sheela Jagtap.

Jagtap added that people were rushing to centres assuming there was limited vaccine stock. “We have enough vaccines and there will be no shortage,” she said.

Tata Memorial hospital also plans to begin vaccination in some days. Dr Shripad Banavali, director (academics), said they were preparing for the centre. “We may think of providing vaccination service to cancer patients here. We need to first understand how the process will go about and how many doses we will get,” Banavali said.

Dr Gautam Bhansali, physician attached with Bombay hospital, said they were prepared to start vaccination for the general public for several days now. “We are happy that the government has finally allowed us to take part. The demand has been high and we need more centres for people,” Bhansali said.

The BMC has decided to expand online reservation for vaccine slots from 25 to 50 per cent of a centre’s capacity. “We want to encourage more people to opt for pre-registered slot instead of walking to a centre for on-the-spot registration. This prepares a centre to expect a certain crowd and manage them,” said BMC health officer Dr Rituraj Rathod. The BMC is also preparing Wadia hospital in Parel to start vaccination.



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