Senior citizens made to stand for hours for vaccine in LalitpurCity had received 2,500 doses from the District Public Health Office two days ago.
Lalitpur Metropolitan City on Wednesday gave the second dose of the Covishield vaccine to its residents aged 75 and above, but the vaccine recipients and their relatives who accompanied them to the vaccination centres criticised the poor management of the centres as ‘insensitive.’
At 9 am on Wednesday, the Patan Secondary School, Patan Dhoka, which is one of the vaccination centres, saw masked elederly people, many with grey heads and sticks on their hands, making a long line that extended to the road. Police and volunteers were deployed to manage around 500 people gathered at the centre.
Vaccines were administered from 10 am to 4pm.
Unable to stand in the sun, many elderly in their 70s, 80s and more sat in the shade while the persons accompanying them stood in the queue on their behalf. But those who came unaccompanied, like 82-year-old Rabindra Shrestha and his 80-year-old wife Asha Maya, had no option but to keep standing in the queue for a long time.
“It’s too hot here and they didn't even manage chairs. How can an old man like me stand for hours,” questioned Rabindra, who said he suffers from knee pain.
It is insensitive of them not to arrange chairs, said Asha Maya, who was holding their vaccination cards issued after they were administered their first jabs in the second week of March.
Asha Maya said there was no crowd when they received their first jabs at their ward office at Patan Durbar Square. “How can one maintain social distancing in such a crowd?”
Situ Shrestha, who was accompanying her 94-year-old grandmother Durga Shrestha, was equally irritated by the mismanagement. “They have left us standing for two and a half hours. This is sheer injustice to the elderly,” said the 17-year-old, who came from Jawalakhel.
People aged 65 years and above across the country had been administered the first dose of AstraZeneca type vaccine between March 7 and 15 but their second doses still remain uncertain. In such a situation the Lalitpur Metropolitan City taking a lead to vaccinate its residents aged over 75 is quite appreciable but it also deserves a fair share of criticism for the poor management.
“There was so much quarrel among people as the queue was dismantled several times,” complained Shailaja Sharma, 62, who was standing in the queue on behalf of her 75-year-old husband, who suffers from Parkinson’s.
“Most of those who are here for the second dose are in poor health. The authorities should have made proper arrangements before starting vaccination,” said Sharma, who is also a human rights activist, from Bakhundole. “I am really surprised why they didn’t give jabs from the ward offices. It’s very stressful here.”
Nepal had begun its vaccination campaign on January 27 with Covishield (Oxford/AstraZeneca) vaccine manufactured in India, but until now it is still undecided when the country is going to get the second dose of the vaccine, after India banned exports of the vaccine amid rising Covid-19 cases there. Another supplier, the COVAX facility, has informed that it will not be able to provide the vaccine anytime soon citing shortages.
When the Post contacted Raju Maharjan, spokesperson of the Lalitpur Metropolitan City to inquire on the lax arrangements at the vaccination centres, he said the City made the decision in a ‘haste.’
He said the City only received 2,500 doses from the District Public Health Office two days ago, and decided to vaccinate its 75-plus population.
“The expiry date of the jabs is nearing so we wasted no time,” said Maharjan.
When the post suggested the elderly would not have to suffer standing in long queues if the vaccines had been administered from ward offices, Maharjan said it was almost impossible to distribute the vaccines to all 29 wards as the number of vaccines was very low.
“The crowding was caused because we decided to vaccinate them within a day from eight different places,” said Maharjan.
Vaccines were administered at the Department of Livestock Services Lagankhel, Lalitpur Metropolitan City office, Balkumari School at Sunakothi, and Karyabinayak School at Bungamati, among other places.
The City’s data show that it had given the first dose of the Covishield vaccine to 11,300 people over 65 years of age.
Earlier in the third week of April, due to government’s mismanagement, people who had come for Chinese vaccines had caused crowding at the vaccination centre at Alka Hospital and many were forced to return home without getting the jabs despite waiting for hours.
Sushil Khanal, one of the volunteers deployed at the Patan Secondary School on Wednesday, blamed people under 75 who came expecting second doses for the crowding, while admitting they should have better managed the situation.