Amongst all the churches in Mumbai, St Michael Church, Mahim, is the first one to start a COVID-19 vaccination centre in its premises for all above 45 years of age along with the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). This initiative, which began on Monday, has been launched in order to reduce crowding at vaccination centres and make the process easily accessible to those above 45 years.
As per the information from BMC, Covishield is being administered at the centre and is available to those above 45 years from 9 am to 7 pm. Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of BMC, said, "We asked the church authorities if they were willing to provide the premises for at least six months to conduct the vaccination drive. The church authorities agreed and we managed to administer jabs to around 247 people on the first day." However, on Tuesday, the centre was shut due to shortage of vaccine doses.
Fr Ashwin Castellino, assistant parish priest at St Michael Church, Mahim said, "The vaccination centre is open all above 45 years through the online registration process via the Co-WIN portal. When the local corporator and BMC approached us, we were happy to help, because it is important to make vaccination easily accessible to the people."
The centre is managed by over 30 to 50 staff members provided by the BMC. For queries, people can contact the vaccine war room on the numbers 022 24210441, 8291163739 and 7045661227. Milind Vaidya, local corporator of the area, said, "When BMC announced the plan to start one vaccination centre in every ward of Mumbai, I was looking for a suitable place for Mahim. We then approached the church authorities and requested them to provide their premises."
Rita D'Sa, former president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha and a parishioner who worked on the forefront for this initiative said, "The vaccination drive is being conducted in a systematic way as there is sufficient space with different entry and exit gates. The aim is to serve the community at large."
Following suit, few other churches of Mumbai are planning to provide their premises to the BMC to set up vaccination centres. Fr Francis Lodovico, assistant parish priest at St Vincent Palloti Church, Marol, Andheri (East) said, "We have provided our premises to the BMC to set up a vaccination centre." This vaccination centre has not started yet due to shortage of vaccine doses.