Mumbai: While the Central government made an official announcement to open the vaccination drive to everyone over the age of 18 years from May 1, logistically it seems like a nightmare waiting to unfold.
The previous two vaccination drives had their own set of issues with people lining up at vaccination centres after they were unable to register via the CoWin portal. Images and videos of several senior citizens waiting in long queues outside vaccination centres did the rounds of social media sparking discontent among several citizens.
Speaking to the Free Press Journal, Dr Rajesh Dere, in charge of BKC Jumbo COVID centre said, “The BKC Centre is well-equipped to handle the vaccination drive. We have separate pandals for the first-time vaccination takers as well as those coming for their second dose. There is no scope for confusion or overcrowding.”
There is ample space as a waiting area with social distancing and enough parking spots as well for people arriving at the centre.
On Wednesday, the Serum Institute of India announced a new pricing structure that will be followed in the months to come. Under this, Covishield will cost Rs 400 per dose for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals. Keeping the new cost associated with the vaccine in mind, the government vaccination centres may see a substantial rise in the number of registrations, as there is no cost involved at these centres.
“Our medical staff is dedicated to serve the people and we are prepared for any eventuality. Most of our staff is working 12 hours or more and we have different shifts to cater to patients,” said Dr Dere.
He added that while their staff is adept at handling the pressure at work any additional help is welcome. “If any NGO, volunteers or even medical students would like to volunteer and help out at the Jumbo centre, we will welcome them.”
As far as medication and supplies are concerned, one has to look at any timeline on social media to see how desperately people are hunting for Remdesivir, Oxygen cylinders and beds across the country.
When asked about the shortage of supplies, Dr Dere said, “We have ample supply of Remdesivir in the centre for all our patients. We did receive another round of vaccine supplies and are expecting to be stockpiled before the third phase begins.”
The BKC Jumbo Centre has seen a recovery rate of 94% and has been receiving a number of calls from across Maharashtra for beds and vaccination drive.
Dr Dere said that they have handled more than 20,000 Covid patients so far. “There was not a single death at the centre when we treated 10,000 patients,” said Dr Dere.
The mortality rate is just under 6% and the recovery rate is 94.6%.
Keeping in mind the volume of people that will be eligible for vaccination from May 1 would it be advisable to consider another option to the CoWin portal for registration? As has been seen in the past, the portal has not been able to sustain traffic and has time and again gone offline, forcing people to walk in to centres for manual registration. Under these circumstances should the State government come up with an alternative plan or develop an app for smooth registration?
That’s a question the Chief Minister’s Office can answer