51% citizens say they knew someone who couldn’t get COVID vaccine jab in April: Survey

The percentage of citizens reporting a shortage at vaccination centres has gone up by nearly 3 times in the last two weeks, the LocalCircles survey reveals.
Covid-19 vaccine
Covid-19 vaccine
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Amid the second wave of COVID-19 in India that is seeing over 355,000 people getting infected on a daily basis, reports are rife that many citizens aren’t able to get the jab on a given date due to vaccine shortages at inoculation centres. According to a survey by social media platform LocalCircles, 51% of citizens knew someone in their social network who could not get a vaccine dose when they went for vaccination in April. 

As per posts and comments received from people from around the country reporting shortages at vaccination centres and having to return without getting inoculated, the survey sought to understand from citizens if they or anyone in their social network faced such a scenario this month (April 2021) when they went to get vaccinated and the centre was out of stock. In response, 15% said “happened with 4 or more individuals in my social network”, 21% said “happened with 2-3 individuals in my social network”, and 15% said “happened with 1 individual in my social network”. There were only 37% saying “did not happen with anyone”, while 12% couldn’t say.

The last LocalCircles vaccine shortage survey released on April 11, 2021, had indicated that 18% of citizens were unable to find a vaccine dose at the vaccine centre. With more people starting to take the jab as COVID-19 cases continue to touch new highs across the country, the percentage of citizens reporting a shortage at vaccination centres has gone up by nearly 3 times in the last two weeks. 

The shortage may be due to sub-optimal local distribution while it is also possible that certain centres or locations have a genuine shortage, the survey says. It must also be noted that as the second wave of COVID-19 strengthened in India, 77% of citizens in the LocalCircles survey in early April expressed interest in taking the vaccine. The number stood at 38% when India started its vaccination drive  on January 16, 2021, thereby marking a major decline in vaccine hesitancy in the 3-month period. This decline in vaccine hesitancy could also be partly contributing to the demand-supply mismatch, the survey notes. 

“Both the Central and State Governments must identify the root cause of whether it is a local distribution issue or if there is a genuine shortage in certain locations. It can be mentioned here that the Serum Institute of India currently produces 2 million vaccines a day, and Bharat Biotech produces 0.3 million vaccines in a day. Given the massive second COVID wave that India is experiencing, it is critical to fix this vaccine shortage and maximise vaccination along with testing, tracing, treating and containment,” the survey adds. 

LocalCircles said it will escalate the findings of this study with key stakeholders in the Central Government so that the concerns and suggestions from citizens are looked into.

Many social media users have pointed out the paucity of vaccines through the hash tag #VaccineShortage. Here are a few tweets: 

Vinay Baid said that there was no vaccine available at Greater Noida hospitals for the last 3 days even as old age people are waiting for their second dose. 

Vishwajit Vyas said no vaccines were available in private hospitals in Whitefield in Bangalore since the last 2-3 days, and his parents’ appointment got cancelled. 

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