With only 6.37 lakh vaccine stocks in the state, the Centre on Wednesday refused to give a nod for the vaccination drive for the 18+ group in Assam. “The government of India did not allow us to go ahead with the vaccination of the 18-44 age people with such a limited stock of vaccines. Only the registration was allowed,” immunization spokesperson and director of health services (family welfare), Assam, Munindra Nath Ngatey, told TOI. “As on date, the 18+ people from the state can only register their names. Nothing beyond this,” Ngatey said.
The state health department has refused to give the go ahead for detailed online registration in the Co-WIN or Aarogya Setu App. Health officials said the state health department has not got any confirmation from Bharat Biotech when it will receive the one crore doses, for which it had placed an order in view of the countrywide vaccination drive for young people beginning next month.
“Without any certainty on when we will receive the new consignments, opening of the booking process for Assam residents may create chaos. The number of applicants to be slotted will go up and we won’t be in a position to plan the vaccination schedules. The availability of slots will depend on the number of doses available in the state,” he added, informing that the Centre has asked Assam to utilize the available vaccines for the 45+ group. Excluding lactating mothers and pregnant women, who have been kept out of the purview of vaccination, the Assam health department has estimated 1,08,83,660 people between 18-44 years eligible for the shots.
In Guwahati, where the Covid situation has been most scary, many private hospitals are running short of Covid-19 vaccines for the last several days. In government hospitals, too, priority is being given only to complete the second dose of vaccination.
Health sources said the state government usually gets confirmation about the vaccine consignments about five days in advance. In case of Assam, the official said the state government will give the go ahead for inoculating people in the 18-44 age group after Bharat Biotech confirms the date of arrival of the vaccines. “Covaxin is being preferred for its over 80% efficacy,” he added.
The Assam branch of the Indian Medical Association urged upon the government to expedite the vaccination process. “The IMA welcomes the bold step the Assam government has taken to vaccinate all citizens above 18 years free of cost and it hopes the one crore doses the government has ordered reaches the state soon,” said IMA, Assam chapter president Dr Satyajit Borah and honorary secretary Dr Sikha Sarma.
The medical body also requests the government not to make the vaccination process complicated by asking the people to register in portals and making the vaccination more costly in the private sector.