Target groups left out from Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Bhimdatta MunicipalityLocals accuse health workers deployed at vaccination sites, people’s representatives and municipal employees of stealing vaccines for family, friends.
The Covid-19 vaccination drive came to a stop for a few hours at the Urban Health Clinic of Bhimdatta Municipality-16 in Kanchanpur on Sunday. The inoculation drive was initiated by the municipality on July 28 for people above 54 years of age.
But most individuals from the target group who reached the clinic to get their jabs were sent back citing a shortage of vaccines, local residents say.
“People have been standing in long queues for hours at the clinic since the vaccination drive began. But most of us had to return without getting the jab,” Mohan Chand, a resident of Bhimdatta Municipality Ward No. 5, told the Post.
The locals blame the health workers deployed at vaccination sites, the people’s representatives and employees of the municipality for stealing vaccines for their own use and for their friends and family.
“Some of the health workers and employees of the municipality have taken Covid-19 vaccines home,” said Chand. “This is the reason for the shortage of vaccines for people from the target group.”
On Monday, the locals of Ward No. 17 came out in protest against the municipal office for mismanagement of vaccines. The vaccination programme in the municipality has since been stopped.
The District Health Office in Kanchanpur had resumed the vaccination drive on July 28 in the district with Sinopharm’s Vero Cell and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccines.
The health office was inoculating people above 54 years and individuals from earlier target groups who had missed their jabs in the previous vaccination drives with the Vero Cell vaccine.
Janssen vaccines are being given to people above 50 years of age; to disabled; migrant workers; and public vehicle drivers and their assistants from August 1.
The health office had planned to wrap up the vaccination drive within four days of initiation.
However, the vaccination drive is now on hold after complaints from locals about people’s representatives and health workers of Bhimdatta Municipality prioritising their own family members and acquaintances for vaccination before covering the target population.
In Bhimdatta Municipality, Janssen vaccines were rolled out only for a day on August 1 for a shortage of the vaccines, according to the health unit of the municipality.
“Many people were willing to get the Janssen shot but the vaccination programme was cancelled after a day because of limited shots,” said Narendra Raj Joshi, chief at the Health Unit of the municipality. “Only 8,000 shots of Janssen vaccines were provided for the municipality. Those vaccines were used in a single day.”
According to the municipal office, vaccination drives were launched in all 14 ward offices of the municipality.
In the first phase, Kanchanpur received 36,000 doses of Vero Cell and 27,000 doses of Janssen vaccines. According to the District Health Office, all doses of Vero Cell vaccines have been used in Kanchanpur whereas Janssen vaccines are being used in all local units except in Bhimdatta Municipality due to the vaccine shortage and locals’ protests.
The District Health Office says there have been discrepancies in vaccine distribution in Bhimdatta Municipality and blames the local unit for mismanagement.
“Vaccines were given to those outside the target groups in Bhimdatta Municipality. People who do not fall in the category also received vaccines. There has been mismanagement on the part of the local unit,” said Shivaraj Sunar, chief at the District Health Office in Kanchanpur.
So far, 13,000 individuals have received two doses of Covishield, the Astrazeneca type vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Vero Cell vaccine in Kanchanpur district, the data of the District Health Office showed.
“The demand for vaccines is high in the district because the second wave of the pandemic was fatal,” said Sunar.
So far, 188 individuals have lost their lives due to Covid-19 in Kanchanpur district. Among them, 172 died during the second wave of the pandemic, the data of the District Health Office showed.
There are over 100 active cases of Covid-19 in Kanchanpur at present, the data of the District Health Office showed.
“New cases are being reported on a daily basis from various health institutions in the district,” said Sunar. “That’s why vaccinating the public is of utmost importance. We are trying to push through shortages and mismanagement so that as many people as possible can be vaccinated.”