Day 2: Low turnout, Maharashtra govt asks districts to also immunise health workers not in day’s list

On day 2 of the first phase of vaccination in Maharashtra, 14,883 healthcare workers received the shot across 274 centres on Tuesday.

With the number just over half those who had been listed and contacted as recipients of the vaccine for the day’s session, the state health department has now asked districts to start immunising all healthcare workers ready for vaccination even if their names are not on the day’s list of recipients.

Officials said they expect the numbers to improve in the coming days.

Maharashtra Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas said: “Low numbers in the initial days are not an issue. Numbers will improve eventually.”

The numbers in Mumbai were down to 1,597 on Tuesday – 39.9 per cent of the total registered for the drive. Last Saturday, the first day of the drive, 48.5 per cent of those listed for vaccination had shown up in Mumbai, and 64.5 per cent across the state.

The excitement of Day 1 had subsided on Tuesday, as centres braced for the four-day a week vaccination routine.

At Dr R N Cooper Hospital, the first recipients walked in only post 10 am, while the hospital staffers were ready by 9 am. The centre had received a list of 300 people, of which 229 turned up. A majority of the recipients at the hospital in Vile Parle were healthcare workers from the K West ward office, most of whom had worked on contact tracing and testing throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I received a call from the Covid-19 war room set up at the ward office on Monday night. I did not receive a text message through the Co-WIN App,” said health inspector Prakash Chougale.

In an indication of continuing glitches in CoWIN, which is being used for the vaccination drive, recipients at the centre said they had not received text messages through the app but were informed by phone to reach the centre between 9 am to 5 pm on Tuesday.

Also, the names of some of those who had been vaccinated on Saturday got repeated on Tuesday, necessitating manual checking of lists. “We tallied the names with our manual record from Saturday and removed the names from Tuesday’s list,” a health official said.

At V N Desai Municipal Hospital in Santacruz, only 62 of the 170 people listed turned up to get vaccinated. A doctor in the hospital, who had got the vaccination on January 16, was admitted to the ICU on Monday night due to an adverse event. Officials at the centre said that could be a reason for the low numbers on Tuesday.

At BYL Nair hopsital, the waiting area for recipients was empty, and those who showed up to get the shot were pleasantly surprised that there was no queue.

At Babasaheb Ambedkar Shatabdi centre, 400 recipients were registered on Tuesday and 236 turned up. In addition to SMS, ward-level war rooms also made phone call reminders to recipients on Tuesday morning.

In K B Bhabha Bandra hospital, where the turnout was one of the lowest in the city, officials started making phone calls to healthcare workers who were not listed for Tuesday’s vaccination. Calls were made to doctors in Lilavati hospital, Holy Family hospital and nearby maternity homes. Of a list of 200, only 90 got vaccinated.

“We have called other healthcare workers who were not listed but are registered in the system. However, over 50 had to be sent back, as their names were not found in the Co-WIN system due to some error,” said Dr Pandurang Funde, Medical Officer of Health of H West ward.

Officials said that one reason for the low turnout was some recipients of vaccines from Saturday had complaints of fever and headache. “Although these are expected side effects, people are still apprehensive,” said an official from BMC.

At Rajawadi hospital, officials vaccinated health workers who had missed their shot on Saturday. “Their names were not on today’s list but since they came, we vaccinated them,” an official said.