The shortage and limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines have been hampering the vaccination drive for individuals between 18 and 44 years in Hyderabad. The vaccination drive for this age group began on May 28, Friday, in Telangana. However, several people in this category alleged that they are either turned away from the designated private hospital or vaccination centre or their slots are being cancelled.
Srujana Boddu, a 28-year-old doctoral student based in Hyderabad, for instance, got a slot after days of attempts since the state government made the announcement on May 25. She was allotted a slot between 12.30 pm and 4.30 pm for May 29 at the Sunshine Hospital in Secundrabad. However, when she showed up at the hospital, the staff turned her away citing that her slot was booked due to a technical glitch.
Like Srujana, over one hundred people, who came to the hospital during the lockdown, were told by the staff that their slots were booked due to a "technical glitch." Several took to Twitter, seeking an explanation from the Sunshine Hospital. Saket J, who booked his slot under the 18+ category, said, "After a lot of attempts, I got a vaccine slot on the CoWin website. When I reached the hospital, the staff said the COVID-19 vaccine was not available." Some people, who went to the hospital, alleged that 400 slots booked at the hospital during the same time.
When TNM contacted the hospitalâ€™s customer help desk, the staff denied any errors on the hospitalâ€™s part. They said that the slots were getting booked due to technical glitches because they are not administering the COVID-19 vaccines. "Earlier, the hospital was administering the vaccines, but now, due to the shortage and other technical problems, we are not carrying out the vaccination drive. It is purely a technical error that led to the booking of slots," a staff at the customer help desk said.
Some beneficiaries claimed their slots at other private hospitals were also getting cancelled. Such delays are being reported mostly in the private sector, while government centres in the city are providing more vaccines. As per the CoWIN dashboard, there are 856 government Covid Vaccination Centers (CVC) and 28 private CVCs.
On May 28, the first day of the vaccination drive for the 18-44 category of recipient, Telangana administered 59,440 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. A total of 56,605 doses were administered at government CVCs, while 2835 doses were given at private CVCs. On day two of the drive, 63,364 beneficiaries were given the doses, with 55,247 doses administered at the government CVCs and 8,117 doses at private CVCs. As of May 29, the total number of people in the 18-44 category who got their first dose stands at 1,22,804.
After a brief gap of 10 days due to the vaccine shortage, the Telangana government recently resumed the vaccination drive for people above 45 years. As of May 29, 39,37,501 people in this age group received the first dose, while 10,71,489 among them received their second dose.
From May 1, as per the new vaccine policy to vaccinate people between 18 and 44 years, the Union government will supply 50% of the vaccine stock to the states and the states will have to purchase the other 50% of the vaccine stock from the manufacturers directly. The Telangana government had earlier said that it is planning to procure 3.35 lakh doses of Covishield and 2.5 lakh doses of Covaxin by June first week. As of May 26, the state government claimed, Telangana has a stock of 61,800 doses of Covishield and 2.5 lakh doses of Covaxin.
Some hospitals alleged that they have not started the vaccination programme for the people in the 18+ category as they have not received the vaccines from the companies yet. A representative from the media relations of CARE Hospitals said, "We have not started the vaccination for 18+ category as the procurement of vaccine doses has not been done yet. Currently, we are continuing with the vaccination for people above 45 years. The purchasing department has placed orders for procuring Covaxin, Coveshield and Sputnik V, which are likely to arrive by the first week of June."
Incidentally, Bharat Biotech said that it takes about four months for Covaxin to progress from the manufacturing stage to availing for administering owing to the technology used and required regulatory approvals.