Despite the Central Government’s nod for the vaccination of senior citizens and those above 45 years of age with comorbidities, from March 1, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to receive any guidelines for the third phase, in which they plan to inoculate 30 lakh senior citizens.
The kickstarting of the third phase in the city depends on the registration process, whether the data will be uploaded on the centralised CoWin app or if citizens have to do it themselves. Another 15 days at least will be required to complete the registration process.
“Currently we do not have any guidelines in place for the third phase of the vaccination drive, which includes registration, criteria of the comorbidities to be included in the guidelines. So, at this point, we are unsure how this will be done. The announcement has been made so quickly; it will be hard to gather information on senior citizens across the city,” said a senior health official.
In the first week of February, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in the Lok Sabha that the third phase of Covid-19 vaccination was likely to commence in March and would cover 270 million crore people aged 50 years and above, as well as those with comorbidities.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said they would need guidelines, as issued for frontline workers before the vaccination drive commenced. The civic body had conducted a survey, ‘My Family, My Responsibility’, through which they had collected data from individuals. “So far, we have information about many who will qualify as beneficiaries in the third phase, as per the data collected by the municipal corporation in the ‘My Family, My Responsibility’ drive. However, we will have to see if all these people have the necessary documentation to register on the app, such as Aadhaar cards,” he said.
Health experts are of the opinion that to avoid issues with the CoWin app, the government should simply allow senior citizens to walk in for the jab. “CoWin glitches in the process of mandatory registration were among the reasons for the low turnout of healthcare workers. Like Covid-19 testing, the government should make vaccination a walk-in programme. Moreover, the government should consider decentralising the system to streamline things,” said an expert.