The crowd gathering at COVID-19 vaccination centres (CVC) has prompted the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to issue fresh guidelines on crowd management at the centres on Thursday. As per the guidelines, only those with booked appointments will be allowed at the CVCs.
"Only citizens who are registered on Aarogya Setu and CoWIN and have booked slots at the CVC of their choice on the same portal before proceeding to the vaccination centre will be allowed in. Exceptions will be permitted in the case of citizens above 45 years of age who are due for their second dose of Covaxin only subject to production of the provisional certificate of the first dose in either soft or hard copy. CVC manager/ in charge will first verify the same at the entry point before permitting the entry in the centre," said a BMC official.
According to the guidelines, an exception will also be considered for healthcare workers (HCW) and frontline workers (FLW) due for their second dose of Covaxin or Covishield, and HCWs and FLWs due for their first dose and having authentic annexure-1 certified by their employers.
The guidelines on crowd management at CVCs are the aftereffect of chaos that reigned the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) vaccination centre on Wednesday. The issue actually went out of control when a section of the uncontrollable crowd broke the barricade and tried to barge into the centre. It could have led to a stampede-like situation.
BMC had tweeted, on Tuesday night, that only 20 per cent of those aged 45 and above could walk in without an assigned slot. Each centre had 500 slots for the 18 to 44 age group; walk-ins were not permitted for them.
The queues began forming early in the morning. By noon, the tension was palpable, punctuated by loud arguments and swelling crowds with almost no physical distancing – not least because the centre’s management made an ad-hoc decision to have a single line for everyone waiting outside. This included senior citizens who had registered on the clunky CoWIN app, those above 45 who turned up without an appointment, and people waiting for their second doses.
Almost a week back, public representatives and political leaders wrote to the civic body and urged them to work on the crowd management at vaccine centres.
Ameet Satam, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of the legislative assembly (MLA) from Andheri (West), wrote to the municipal administration and suggested that the BMC should now start its own digital platform, on the lines of the CoWIN portal, which would help people pre-fix their appointments and get slots. "With COVID-19 reigning vaccine centres, issuing the guidelines and streamlining the vaccination process was very important. If crowd management is not done, then centres would become a source of the spread of the virus. With new guidelines, we will be able to manage the crowd at the centres," said a senior BMC official.