India opened up Covid-19 vaccination for a larger group of beneficiaries on March 1. All citizens above 60 and those within the age bracket of 45 to 59 years with specified co-morbidities are the beneficiaries of this second phase of the vaccination drive. Citizens can either register online or do spot registration.
However, it would seem that the second phase of the vaccine supply in Kerala is in a state of disarray. According to media reports, a technical glitch in the CoWin portal and lack of proper organisation has caused the disarray. Also, certain Covid vaccinations are said to be not fully functional.
A challenge in the CoWin portal is that one can’t pick a time slot or the venue. Besides, even as phase two of the vaccination programme has begun, several among the priority sections eligible under the first phase are still to be given the shots. As the backlog would have to be cleared, the vaccination of those eligible for the second phase is getting delayed. Also, the vaccination for polling officers is currently on. The authorities have directed the completion of two rounds of vaccination for 3.8 lakh officials to be deployed for election duties by March 6. So far, only half of the poll officials are said to have received the vaccine.
Meanwhile, there has been no move by the government to increase the number of vaccination centres. Although more than half of the hospitals in Kerala are private, just a handful of these - just below 100 - offer their service as vaccination centres. In some districts, there is barely a handful of vaccination centres.
Although hospitals are directed to vaccinate up to 200 people a day, authorities are turning many away either due to the rush or lack of vaccines. In fact, the Thycaud General Hospital saw a mad rush today, which saw many a person return disappointed. Meanwhile, Mohammad Asheel, director of Social Security Mission, speaking to the media, encouraged the elderly to opt for online registration and not spot registration.