Shortage of Covid-19 vaccines in GorkhaMany senior citizens were turned away from vaccination centres without getting inoculated.
Sixty-eight-year-old Nara Bahadur Gurung, a resident of Haramtari in Ward No. 6 of Gorkha Municipality, reached the vaccination centre of Gorkha Hospital at 10 am on Tuesday. He stayed in a queue for two hours but returned home without getting vaccinated.
“I went to the centre early in the morning to include my name on the list. But the hospital was closed at that time. I went back at 10 am. The hospital informed me that they did not have any more doses of Covid-19 vaccines left,” said Gurung. “Doctors at the hospital suggested I visit the hospital at a later date for vaccination.”
Another Ishwori Marahatta, 68, of Gorkha Municipality Ward No. 7 walked for an hour to reach Gorkha Hospital to get a vaccine against Covid-19 on Tuesday. She, too, returned without getting one.
“Many villagers were sent home without getting vaccinated on Monday. I went to the hospital on Tuesday hoping to get vaccinated but the vaccination centre was closed,” Marahatta said.
On Tuesday, the vaccination centre of the hospital remained closed due to the shortage of vaccines.
The Health Ministry has started the second phase of immunisation from March 7 to inoculate all those over 55 years of age. It is estimated that 3.7 million people of the said age group have to be immunised across the country.
Under the campaign, the government aims to inoculate 15,981 individuals above the age of 65 across 11 local units in Gorkha district. Among them, 10,343 individuals have to be inoculated in six local units in the first phase. But the campaign has been affected due to the shortage of vaccines.
On Tuesday, senior citizens returned home without receiving vaccines from vaccination centres in all local units of Gorkha. Sahid Lakhan Rural Municipality, which was prepared to conduct the campaign for three days, has cancelled immunisation drives in some of the vaccination centres from Tuesday.
“There are only 70 doses of vaccines in our stock. We have notified villagers not to visit health facilities for vaccines due to the shortage,” said Birendra Shrestha, chief at the Health Section of the rural municipality.
According to the data of the rural municipality, it has inoculated 1,300 individuals above the age of 65 until now.
“We still have to inject vaccines to around 1,000 individuals,” said Shrestha.
Hom Bahadur Rana, chairman of Gandaki Rural Municipality, said senior citizens from Ward No. 2, 7 and 8 have been left out from the immunisation drive due to the shortage. “We are talking with authorities at the provincial level to address the issue,” Rana said.
According to the District Health Office in Gorkha, the immunisation drive is being conducted in two phases in the district. In the first phase, the office is conducting campaigns in Palungtar and Gorkha municipalities and Sahid Lakhan, Gandaki, Siranchok and Ajirkot rural municipalities.
“Although the Health Ministry’s initial plan was to inoculate all those over 55 years of age, we will be vaccinating senior citizens above 65 as per the direction of the Ministry of Social Development in Gandaki Province,” said Narajang Thakuri, acting chief at the health office.
According to the data of the health office, out of 10,343 individuals, 8,114 individuals above age 65 received vaccines in six local units on Sunday and Monday.
“The District Health Office in Gorkha had received 1,200 vial doses. But we have only 70 vials left in stock. We need 197 more vial doses to conduct the immunisation drive,” said Thakuri, adding that they have already informed the Ministry of Social Development, Health Directorate and other concerned offices about the shortage of vaccine.
The District Health Office in Gorkha informed that almost all districts in the province are suffering from vaccine shortage.
“The health office has been preparing to conduct the second phase of immunisation drive in Bhimsen Thapa, Barpak Sulikot, Aarughat, Dharche and Chamunubri rural municipalities from March 11 to March 13. We have kept 388 vials of vaccines in stock for those areas,” said Thakuri.
On January 27, the government had started the first phase of immunisation with one million doses of Covishield provided by India under grant assistance.