At least 32 private vaccination centres in Mumbai were shut on Monday due to shortage of vaccines. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has about one lakh doses left to last it two days.
With the Union government announcing that all those above 18 years of age will be vaccinated from May 1, Maharashtra requires to ramp up its vaccination centres and supply of doses.
Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for opening up the vaccination drive for all above 18 years of age, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said: “The state will make a complete plan for it. We hope that vaccines will be made available from time to time.”
Earlier this month, Thackeray had written to the PM, requesting that those above 25 years of age be allowed to get vaccinated to protect the “young and working population” from the rapid spread of the virus.
Dr Mangala Gomare, BMC Executive Health Officer, said that at the current rate of 60,000 immunisation per day, Mumbai needs at least four to five days of stock.
“But once we received only 16,000 doses and another time, 40,000 doses. We want to increase the number of centres but we need enough doses to sustain all of them,” she added.
While on Monday, Mumbai recorded 35,309 immunisations, it had recorded 27,189 vaccinations on Sunday – a drop from over 50,000 recorded routinely.
The city has 127 vaccination centres. The BMC is providing stock to only government centres while private centres will be given more doses once fresh supply comes.
Officials said while there is adequate stock of Covaxin, there is dearth of Covishield doses and several slated for second dose are being turned away.
Dr Sanjay Oak, Chairman of the State Covid-19 Task Force, said the next 11 days are crucial, as the state moves towards a complete lockdown and has to prepare for vaccinating people aged above 18 years.
“The next 11 days must be utilised to augment infrastructure in vaccination centres. We need more centres that must operate 16 to 18 hours if not 24 hours. Vaccination centres cannot become super spreader events, so timely booking of vaccine slots is necessary. Due to the lockdown, we expect a consistent decline in new cases,” Oak said.
But he warned that enough vaccine doses must be made available to improve coverage, as Mumbai shows hints of a decline in new cases.
Oak said the task force will advise the government to call for young volunteers to work at vaccination centres.
“In return, their immunisation will be prioritised. This massive exercise cannot be handled by healthcare workers alone. We need youngsters to participate and help in the registration process. Immunisation will be done by trained nurses only,” he added.