The overwhelming response to COVID-19 vaccination from the general public on day one itself took the Health administration by surprise, as hundreds of senior citizens, armed with the Aadhar card, queued up at major government hospitals right from the morning on Monday.
Though there was official intimation that the registration/vaccination for those over 60 years and those between 45-59 years with co-morbidities would be initiated from Monday, Health officials had little clarity on how things would work out on the day.
Heavy traffic made the CoWin portal slow and most of the eligible categories who managed to get on to the portal or website could only get their names registered. The majority could not get an appointment for vaccination.
But with the Centre announcing that walk-in or spot registration and vaccination would be allowed, many senior citizens chose this option. It could be the fear of COVID-19 or the hope that the vaccination would enable them to live more freely, senior citizens seemed to be in a rush to secure the vaccine, as could be witnessed from the overcrowding and long queues at General Hospital in the capital district.
Statewide data was not readily available, however, in Thiruvananthapuram district, 2,432 persons in all received the vaccine, of whom, 877 were senior citizens who had walked in with the identity card to pubic hospitals.
Crowd-control measures had to be taken at the GH here as by noon, the numbers swelled. By 5 p.m., when the vaccination closed, there were scores still waiting anxiously. They were sent back with tokens so that they could get the shots the next day.
“We cannot open up vaccination sites at private hospitals overnight, without inspecting the hospitals and ensuring that they have proper cold chain facilities to store the vaccine. This vaccine does not come with vaccine vial monitors, so ensuring proper cold chain arrangements is a priority. We had a meeting with the representatives of private hospitals and they were trained on site preparation, vaccination guidelines and data management on CoWIN. By Tuesday, we hope to finish site inspections so that a good number of private hospitals can be designated as vaccination sites soon,” a senior official said.
It is also pointed out that the vaccination of various groups in the State (second dose administration for health workers, completion of first dose for frontline workers and vaccination of poll officials, apart from the elderly) all at once was creating huge logistics and HR management issues
Officials said that they hoped that vaccination for the general public can be made a more streamlined affair soon, as soon as the dust settles.