People stand outside a closed vaccination centre due stock shortages of Covid-19 coronavirus vaccines in Mumbai on May 6, 2021.
People stand outside a closed vaccination centre due stock shortages of Covid-19 coronavirus vaccines in Mumbai on May 6, 2021.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has been reeling under an acute shortage of Covaxin for the last two days, as a result of which beneficiaries due for their second dose are being turned away from centres despite having appointments. Only two of the three vaccine centres are administering Covaxin to beneficiaries between 18 and 44 years of age. Civic officials say they are down to the last 1,00,000 doses of vaccines, which is just enough stock for the next two days.

On Monday, 31,043 registered beneficiaries were vaccinated at the 105 covid vaccine centres in Mumbai, of which 4,837 were between 18 and 44 years of age. There were eight beneficiaries who experienced side effects.

According to a BMC report, a total of 1,77,914 people have been administered Covaxin in the city, of whom 1,21,416 have received their first dose and 56,452 have got the second dose as well.

The BMC, through its Twitter handle, put out a list of 105 vaccination centres that would be functional on Monday but only be administering Covishield. It was the same story on the day before.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said the BMC had 20,000 Covaxin doses and had accordingly directed vaccine centres to administer Covaxin to only a limited number of beneficiaries. “We only have two days’ worth of vaccine stock and if we don’t get stock by Tuesday or Wednesday, then the vaccination drive will come to a halt,” he said.

Meanwhile, BMC officials said they had floated a tender to procure 60 lakh vaccine doses to overcome the shortage. “We are constantly making efforts to continue the vaccination drive and ensure that more people are vaccinated in Mumbai. Accordingly, a tender has been floated on Monday for procuring 60 lakh vaccine doses,” said a senior health official.

However, several citizens expressed anger and frustration at the state of affairs as many of them are due for their second dose, having received their first jab over 42 days ago. As per the government guidelines, the recommended gap between two doses of Covaxin is four to six weeks and for Covishield, the suggested interval is four to eight weeks.

“There is absolute unavailability of covaxin in Mumbai/Navi Mumbai. Plus the booking of slots making it harder. My father took 1st dose, it's more than 8 weeks now he is yet to find Covaxin. Which is way above the max window period between 1st & 2nd dose,” tweeted @kharatshashank.

“my #dad is due for 2nd dose of #Covaxin #vaccine Already crossed 45 days ... Unable to book for paid or free... Please help..,” shared @karan.

Meanwhile, many beneficiaries complained that those from the 18-44 group were getting Covaxin as the first dose when there were many in the 45-plus group who had not received their second dose. "What about Covaxin 2nd dose for 45+. When the stocks are low, why is it still being administered to 18+ as 1st dose? Why are senior citizens being left high n dry? What about this is so difficult for the administration?” asked @amit.

Until Friday evening, 27,31,474 people had been vaccinated in Mumbai - 20,67,623 beneficiaries received their first dose while 6,63,851 people got their second shot.

Maharashtra Tourism and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray said on Monday that the Maharashtra government had asked the BMC to explore possibilities of global procurement of vaccines. “Working on a method to ensure non-tech-savvy citizens and those who can’t operate CoWin app get access to vaccines in time. Efforts to increase vaccination centres are constantly ongoing. BMC shall be having a centre in every municipal ward. BMC shall have a drive-in vaccination centre across all zones of Mumbai,” he tweeted.

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Free Press Journal