The Union Health Ministry on Monday refuted as "baseless and incorrect" some media reports suggesting that even a successful booking on the CoWIN platform for a vaccination slot does not assure one of a COVID-19 jab. The CoWIN platform facilitates registration, scheduling of appointments, vaccination and certification of beneficiary. Availability of slots on CoWIN portal is based on the vaccination schedule published by the District Immunisation Officer (DIO) or session site in-charge which in turn depends upon availability of vaccines, the ministry said in a statement.
"There have been some media reports suggesting that even a successful booking on the CoWIN platform for a vaccination slot does not assure one of a COVID-19 vaccine jab. These reports are baseless and incorrect, not supported by full information on the matter," the ministry said. It was noticed that in some cases the DIOs were publishing a session and then in case vaccines were in short supply, they used to cancel such sessions or return the beneficiaries.
"This definitely caused inconvenience to such beneficiaries who booked their appointments for such vaccination centres/ sessions. To remove this problem, CoWIN has now provided the feature for rescheduling of vaccination sessions so that the DIO does not have to cancel the sessions," the statement said.
The government was responding to media reports that quoted several people who booked a slot for the vaccine and made their way to the vaccination centre, only to be turned down by authorities either because there was no stock or because only second doses were being administered.
Provision has also been made that pre-booked appointments for a session, also get rescheduled when a session is rescheduled. In such cases now the beneficiary shall not have taken a fresh appointment. The beneficiaries shall also receive an SMS informing them about rescheduling of their session. The system still provides the option of rescheduling/cancellation of an appointment to the beneficiaries, the ministry said.
States and union territories have been advised that they should publish vaccination slots based on the availability of vaccines, the statement said. The Union government has also instructed all states and UTs to give preference to beneficiaries with online appointments than to on-site registrations.
The Government of India has been supporting the efforts of states and UTs towards vaccinating all people aged 18 years and above with priority being given to the healthcare and frontline workers, the statement said. CoWIN has been developed as a platform to manage vaccinations across the country.
The statement by the Union government came even as the Supreme Court on Monday posed questions on the need for mandatory registration on the CoWIN portal for people to get vaccinated. A special bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, LN Rao and S Ravindra Bhat asked the Union government how it is going to address the issue of digital divide facing the country, especially in rural areas.
(With PTI inputs)