Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Local residents say that increase in spacing between two doses of Covishield is a means to cover up the shortage of vaccines. They say that Union Government’s vaccination policy is a failure.
Some suspect that these changes are not being made for medical or scientific reasons. Rather, they are being made to hide the government’s shortcomings and failures on vaccination front.
Since the launch of vaccination drive on January 16 this year, several changes have been made in vaccination protocol as well as in price of vaccines. Vaccines are in short-supply. The spacing between two doses of Covishield increased from 4-6 weeks to 6-12 weeks to 12-16 weeks in last two months.
According to CoWIN portal, as on May 22, a total 97.29 lakh doses of vaccine have been administered in the state. The corresponding figure for Bhopal is 6.79 lakh. They include 86.39 lakh Covishield and 10.90 lakh Covaxin in the state and 6.01 lakh and over 77,000 respectively in the city.
Excerpts of what residents have to say:
Sunil Dubey, environmentalist
1.5 lakh people await second dose
“It is clear that the spacing between two doses of Covishield has been increased because vaccines are in short supply. When I got the first dose, I was told that I should compulsorily get the second one within 28-32 days. But now, the minimum gap has been increased to 84 days. This decision cannot be based on scientific reasons.
Why did the government start vaccinating 18+ when it did not have enough vaccines even for second dose of 45+? We had organised vaccination camps in some slum clusters, where the first dose was administered to the residents, including two 90-plus women. Now, they all want to get the second dose. 1.5 lakh people are waiting for the second dose. Some of them are phoning me and some of them are reaching my home for that. It is difficult to convince them. Actually, the government’s vaccine policy is all wrong."
Iqbal Baig, social activist
It is business now
“The government has turned vaccination into a business. Seven members of my family got their first dose of Covishield. According to original schedule, they were to get their second dose from May 25-27. However, suddenly the government has announced that they would have to wait for 84 days. The government is claiming that the decision has been taken for the good of people. Since they didn’t have the vaccine, they extended the duration. That’s all.”
Javed Khan, RJ and social activist
“There is confusion all around. There is something seriously wrong with the government’s policy, strategy or planning. The government’s reputation is in the mud. Adar Poonawalla, his wife, son and his father have moved to London to escape from politicians. There is no reason why the same vaccine should have three different prices – one for the central government, another for the state government and another for private hospitals.
The Centre has shifted the burden of inoculating 18-plus residents on to state governments, which don’t have the necessary resources. Earlier, when the government was asking people to get vaccinated, the people were reluctant. Now, the people want to get the jabs but vaccines are not available.”
Anil Chaubey, banker
Made a mess of it
"I received my first jab of Covishield on April 13. Now, I will have to wait till July for the second dose. The government has made a mess of the vaccination programme. It should have arranged enough stocks before embarking upon the event. It is ruining the image of government and the people are losing confidence in the system. Either the spacing that was prescribed earlier was wrong or the latest one is wrong.”
Shailendra Dubey, health worker
Research is ongoing process
“Shortage may be a factor but it is also possible that the changes are being made on the basis of genuine scientific research and advice. Research is an ongoing process and may be, the scientists have discovered that the vaccine would be more effective if the spacing between two doses is longer. But there have been cases of people turning positive even after taking both the doses. Won’t they feel that it is because they were given shots at shorter internals and that is why the vaccine is not effective?”
Shivani Jaipal Bodkar, student
It is a joke
“What is happening is a joke. Is this a vaccination programme or what? First we are told that the vaccine won’t be effective if the gap between two doses is more than this; then we are told that it won’t be effective if the gap is less than that. This is wrong. I think the government does not have vaccines and has no option except to increase the spacing.”