COVID-19 vaccine odyssey: Seniors, 45+ continue to wait in queue in Mumbai

Getting immunised for their own safety and for the greatest good of the greatest number is proving to be a hellish test in fortitude and endurance for senior citizens and those 45+, as they diligently line up outside vaccination centres, waiting for several hours at a time to get their Covid vaccine, day after day.

Each day, people have been waiting for longer than three hours, despite having registered themselves on the CoWin portal. Besides, there is no separate queue for those beneficiaries coming for their second dose, leading to unbridled chaos at the centres in the midst of a pandemic where social distancing is a crucial preventive measure.

There is a lot of ‘vaccine centre-hopping’ that people are being forced to do because of stock availability issues at their nearest centre and there is no guarantee that their efforts will be rewarded at their next vaccine stop.

As beneficiaries and their family members complain of mismanagement at vaccine centres, civic officials say that currently, a large number of beneficiaries are showing up for vaccination, anxious to get done as they anticipate it will be too chaotic from May 1, when the drive will be open to all adults.

Ravindran Sharma, a Mahim resident, escorted his parents to the Mahim vaccine centre at 8am on Tuesday and they waited in line. But when it was their turn, they were denied a second dose because they had not taken the first dose at that centre. “We booked an appointment before going to the centre and when we reached there, they disregarded our appointments and asked us to wait in a queue. After this, they said ‘We will give you a second dose only if you have taken the first one from us’. Imagine having to hear this when it is finally your turn after having waited in the queue,” he said.

People say they have to enquire at various vaccine centres to whether or not these had vaccine stock. Most centres are out of stock and beneficiaries are forced to return. “I had reached the VN Desai vaccine centre at 7.30am, only to have them put up a board saying only the first 50 will get the vaccine, as they have run out of stock, while the rest must return again. It seems the BMC is making a joke out of us -- we wait for two to three hours in line, only to be asked to go back due to stock unavailability. Then we have to run to another centre,” said Sameer Shaikh, a resident of Andheri.

Senior civic officials said the current scenario of the vaccination drive is a far cry from the initial days, as now, people are coming forward in large numbers to get vaccinated and this is leading to chaotic situations. On top of this, owing to the limited vaccine stock, beneficiaries prefer to visit select vaccine centres, thereby increasing the workload at such centres, officials said.

“Earlier, when we had enough stock, citizens were hesitant, but now, everyone wants to get vaccinated before May 1. Moreover, beneficiaries have become selective in choosing vaccine centres, which explains the crowds at jumbo vaccine centres. Also, there is no separate queue for the beneficiaries coming in for their second dose,” an official said.

Meanwhile, family members of senior citizens took to social media to point out civic mismanagement at the vaccination centres, forcing beneficiaries to sweat it out in the heat and making them return emptyhanded.

“What is the point of registering on the COWIN app if a senior citizen is made to wait for many hours in a common line along with other unregistered people for Vaccine at Mahim Maternity Hospital? Have separate lines at least,” tweeted Kamna Palan.

“In your list you mentioned "Surana Hospital and research centre, Malad" as functional today for vaccination. But today morning we're there for 7:30 to 9:30 AM and they said BMC has not given any Vaccine doses to them.

@mybmc pls check what are they doing with alloted Vaccine. Tks,”@bhavya5985

“On vaccination enquiry in one of the hospitals in Mumbai. @SuryaHospitals : we do not have vaccination. Do not call and enquire also.

Such arrogance at the time when every Individual is also trying to help. Shame on such organisations,” tweeted @ravisha74794995

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