'24x7 jabs are easier said than done':  BMC likely to outsource manpower to keep COVID-19 vaccination drive going in Mumbai

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has now ruled out the possibility of conducting a 24x7 vaccination drive at all its centres, according to a health official from the civic health department, as not all of its vaccine centres have adequate staff to handle a non-stop vaccination drive. However, the BMC has decided to outsource manpower in order to keep the drive going in double shifts at the centres, and has accordingly sent a proposal to the Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said the aim was to boost vaccination and get as many inoculated as was possible in the given timeframe. Since it is not possible to provide 24-hour vaccination service, the BMC has planned to conduct the drive in two shifts and for this, they need more manpower.

“Last week, we floated a proposal to the civic chief seeking permission for outsourcing manpower, which will enable us to conduct the drive in two shifts, with the second shift ending by 10pm, at the selected vaccine centres. We will provide the requisite training to all the outsourced staff on the vaccination process and there will be two to three senior staff from the hospital who will be monitoring their work,” he said. “We plan to push the daily numbers of those being vaccinated to 75,000.”

While welcoming the move, health experts have expressed concern about outsourcing manpower, saying if trained nurses are not obtained for the inoculation process, who is to be held accountable in case of eventualities?

Dr Deepak Baid, president, Association of Medical Consultants, said there was no point in outsourcing manpower for the vaccination drive as they could not take a risk such as the nurses required for the process not being well-trained. “The BMC can outsource manpower for the private sector as they have adequate staff to handle the vaccination drive, but at civic or government-run hospitals, they will be of no use. Instead of outsourcing, the civic body should increase the vaccination centres and should allow more private hospitals, dispensaries and clinics to conduct vaccination drives,” he said.

Earlier this month, the civic body had given the green signal for a 24x7 drive, after the Centre consented to allowing all the centres in Maharashtra to do so if they had adequate staff. The decision had come in the wake of repeated technical glitches in the centralised Co-Win portal, which was causing problems at all the vaccine centres.

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