Mumbai: Eventful as the ongoing phase of the mass immunisation drive has been, most frontline workers who were due for their second dose of the vaccine and went to the BYL Nair Hospital, were sent back, as glitches in the CoWin portal once again disrupted the drive for the third day in a row.
Several first-time beneficiaries had to return without their mandatory second shot, as the staff at the vaccine centre were not administering the remainder dose, citing the persistent technical issues in the CoWin portal since the start of the mass vaccination drive on January 16. Civic officials said they were helpless as the portal was centralised and this was causing chaos and mismanagement at the vaccine centres.
Varsha Joshi, a healthcare worker has been going to the vaccine centre for the last two days to get her second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, but has so far been unsuccessful. Both times she was told the CoWin portal had crashed and so she could not receive her shot as her name had to be cross-verified on the portal, first. “I had taken my first dose in the first week of February, following which I had to wait for 28 days to take the second dose. When I came to the vaccine centre, however, they informed me that the portal was not working properly, so they were unable to administer the vaccine. I came back on Wednesday and waited in the queue from 12pm, only to hear them announce three hours later that they could not give out the second dose as the portal had crashed again,” she said.
Agitated by her two-day ordeal, she slammed the system, saying no proper arrangements had been made for frontline workers – they had to take time from their busy schedules for the purpose of inoculation -- and when they reached the centre, these were the problems. “I have heard that if the second dose is not taken after 28 days, then there is no point in taking the shot, as its immunity only lasts for 45 days. However, I have been asked to come again today,” Joshi added. There were more than 20 other beneficiaries who had also come for their second doses who faced the same fate.
Dr Ramesh Bharmal, Dean, Nair Hospital, said they were facing huge problems because of the centralised CoWin portal, forcing most beneficiaries to return, as their names were not showing on the portal. Until Wednesday afternoon the portal was working properly only to crash later, creating problems. “We have asked the higher authorities to resolve the portal issue as soon as possible. We have tried to explain it to the beneficiaries but they are not ready to listen,” he said.
Senior citizens too are upset and have slammed the civic body for failing to make proper arrangements at the vaccine centres. They have to stand ins long queue in the scorching heat. “We don’t understand what the civic body is doing, there seems to be utter mismanagement at all the centres. There should have been a separate desk or registration counter for senior citizens but we have to stand in the same queue as the others. We end up waiting for more than three hours before the mission is accomplished,” said 80-year-old Rashmeen Solanki, who had visited vaccine centre at BKC Jumbo Centre.
Senior health officials said the CoWin portal has become a headache for them and is delaying the vaccine drive. “We are now inoculating four categories but the problem remains the same. Unless the portal functions properly, we cannot do anything. Beneficiaries too should understand that it is a mass vaccination drive and Mumbai has a population of over two crores, of which one crore will be vaccinated. Naturally, some disruption is bound to be there,” an official said.