Covid-19 vaccination: Centres witness enthusiastic response on Day 1

There was no dearth of enthusiasm as beneficiaries turned up voluntarily across cities to get the vaccine shot on Monday with the country entering the second phase of vaccination
The halls were nearly empty and the number of people seated in the vaccination waiting area sparse at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, just hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to get the Covaxin jab.

In stark contrast, a line of makeshift canopies was erected in the backyard of Max Smart Super Specialty hospital in Delhi as senior citizens started pouring in from 9 am as soon as the Co-WIN registrations went live.

Many managed to register and others just decided to walk in; till afternoon there were at least 300 beneficiaries that had enrolled for vaccination on day one at the hospital. 

But not all walk-ins got the jab. Ranganath Navalgund, former director of Space Applications Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), landed at the Aster CMI hospital in Bengaluru at 10 am for the Covid-19 jab; two hours later he was turned away, for not registering on the Co-WIN app.  

“I could not select the venue where I wanted to get the vaccination on the app and chose to walk in,” said a visibly tired sexagenarian. Hours later, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials turned up and informed that they would not be allowing walk-in vaccinations for the first week to avoid overcrowding.

There was no dearth of enthusiasm as beneficiaries turned up voluntarily across cities to get the vaccine shot on Monday with the country entering the second phase of vaccination with the 60-and-above and 45- plus with comorbidities.

At the Covid centre in BKC, Mumbai, long queues greeted beneficiaries, with vaccination for both senior citizens and frontline workers taking place at the same time. There were no separate lines, adding to the inconvenience. As crowds swelled in the afternoon, the wait time increased to 30-60 minutes. 

But some showed spirit; film director Rahul Rawail, who got vaccinated at the BKC centre, said, "I wanted to take the vaccine ASAP. If I had my way, I would have slept outside the vaccination centre last night to be the first recipient.”

Whether it’s the government hospital in Chennai or AMRI Hospitals in South Kolkata, the scene was buzzing with people walking in to get the Covid shot.

Pradeep Angre, dean of the Mulund facility, said the turnout was more encouraging in this round. "On most days, we were administering doses to 30-40 healthcare or frontline workers. Today, already over 50 senior citizens have been given the jab and more are waiting."

Dilip Jose, MD and CEO of Manipal Hospitals, said the enthusiasm was very high and a lot of people reached out to enquire how they could get registered. At Manipal’s flagship hospital in Bengaluru, the first dose was administered to a 97-year-old man.

 The dean at the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital, Chennai, said that in the first one hour, over a 100 people had registered.

 The only dampener was the technical glitches on the Co-WIN app and confusion over walk-in.

 “The response has been huge. Many senior citizens turned up, but not all had registered, and some did not have proper documentation,” said Rupak Barua, director and group CEO, AMRI Hospitals.

The hospital had been allowed to vaccinate 50 beneficiaries each at its two units including 30 senior citizens and 20 from the age group of 45-59 today.

 Beneficiaries have an option between pre-booking slots on the app and walk-in registration. However, in Bengaluru, there will be no walk-ins for the first week; in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and West Bengal, walk-in registrations have been allowed.

 Maharashtra health department along with the Mumbai civic body are holding meetings with hospitals to gauge their infrastructure and willingness. The enrollments will be done accordingly. 

 Even as the upgraded Co-WIN was launched, technical glitches continued and many places got off to a late start.

 At the BKC Covid centre, officials had to register details regarding allotment before administering doses and were unable to complete the process. While on-spot registrations began after 9 am, actual vaccination began only after 11 am. At Bengaluru, too, vaccination was to start at noon but could not be rolled out before 2pm.

At state-run SSKM Hospital in Kolkata, the portal ran into a problem and beneficiaries for the second dose were made to wait. Registration on multiple platforms have been allowed, but that too didn't seem to resolve the problem.

"We had already registered through the municipal corporation's website a couple of months ago before the vaccination drive began but no intimation was received on the same,” said Nishit Joshi, 39, who was registering his father (65) and mother (62) for the third phase of vaccination. 

“Today, we tried to register on the Aarogya Setu, but till noon there was no option to register. After noon, when the option was visible on the app, we were unable to register as the server got busy," he added. 

Suneeta Reddy, MD, Apollo Hospitals, said she expected the process to smooth out in 2-3 weeks. Reddy has also asked the government to extend the hours for vaccination from eight to 12-14. 

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