On the foundation day of Maharashtra (May 1), Mumbai took its first step to launch the COVID-19 vaccination drive for citizens between the age group of 18-44 years.
Earlier on Friday night, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) received 20,000 vials of Covishield vaccine for the purpose of vaccinating citizens in the age group of 18-44 years, following which it announced through its social media platforms, well past midnight that the drive would take place between 1-6 pm on Saturday, in five BMC operated facilities namely - Cooper Hospital -Juhu, Seven Hills Hospital - Andheri, BKC Jumbo Facility, Rajawadi Hospital - Ghatkopar and Nair Hospital.
The civic body in its tweet asked people to get their appointment through the CoWIN platform and also asserted that only those with confirmed appointment will be inoculated and mere registration will not work, the BMC had also suspended walk in registration for the drive.
Meanwhile, Mumbaikars scrambled to get the appointment done and the slots became full within an hour. Due to limited stock, the BMC had set up a target to vaccinate 1,000 beneficiaries on the first day with 200 beneficiaries in each center.
Many Mumbaikars complained that the app was getting crashed frequently, due to which they were unable to get themselves registered on the first day.
"I logged in around 1 am and couldn't find a slot, I kept refreshing and within five minutes I saw that more than 70 slots in Rajawadi hospital got filled," said Unmesh Diwan (27), who managed to get a slot.
"The app was crashing frequently, in the app they were showing that a OTP has been sent, however in my phone I couldn't get one," said Rakesh Pratap (19), who failed to get a slot on the first day.
While the BMC have maintained that vaccination wouldn't start before 1 pm, however, Mumbaikars started to gather outside the centres from early morning on Saturday.
Ville Parle resident, Gayatri Raichura reached Cooper hospital around 8 am with her husband on Saturday and got the dose after 1 pm.
"We registered after 1 am last night and received the confirmation message, the portal was running bit slow however, the registration process was completed," Raichura said.
Vishal Masulkar, who got his first dose on Saturday, said that it was his luck that helped him get a slot.
"The window of registration opened around 1 am and there was huge rush, we could literally see that slots were getting filled fast," said Masulkar.
Richa Dayanand another citizen said that despite trying from multiple devices she failed to get an appointment on Friday night.
"After numerous attempt of refreshing the page me and my brother got an appointment at BKC on Sunday afternoon," Dayanand said.
Meanwhile, Suresh Kakani - additional municipal commissioner and in-charge of public health in the BMC said that on the first day BMC has achieved 100 percent of its target.
"In Rajawadi we revised our target to 100 beneficiaries and total 992 beneficiaries received the dose on Saturday, which means we have achieved more than 100 percent on day 1," Kakani told FPJ on Saturday.
Furthermore, he said that on Sunday the BMC has set up a target of vaccinating 2,500 people.
"We received around 20,000 doses for vaccinating 18-44 years group, through the next week we will be augmenting the daily target gradually," he added.
Kakani also added that only 1,000-1,500 vials are left in the inventory of 45+ beneficiaries and unless the stocks are refilled, the civic body won't be able to start inoculating beneficiaries of the category. However, he mentioned that new stocks may arrive by this weekend.