To manage crowds, Kerala stops one-off recording of Covid-19 vaccines

Kerala halted on-site recording for the Covid-19 vaccination amid dwindling vaccine stocks in the state, where large numbers of people continued to scramble to vaccination centers for the vaccines.

The surge in daily Covid-19 cases suddenly triggered a higher demand for vaccines in Kerala, where, up to a week back, people were generally reluctant to be given the vaccines. Although the one-time vaccine registration has been halted, hundreds of people have lined up at major hospitals looking for their turn to be vaccinated.

Three weeks ago, the government introduced one-off vaccination registration where prior registration with the CoWIN portal was not mandatory. This meant that anyone over the age of 60 or 45 could enter any vaccination center with their AADHAAR card to get a one-time registration. But the introduction of one-time registration triggered a large turnout in vaccination centers, which ended up with a few hundred doses. Many vaccination centers have witnessed unruly scenes with people trying to break into vaccination rooms to get the vaccines before the vials are empty.

Health department sources said the one-time recording was halted not only due to the vaccine shortage, but to reduce rush to vaccination centers. From Thursday, tokens will only be issued to those who have registered their name on the Co-WIN portal.

“By making prior registration compulsory, we avoid overcrowding in the centers and we ensure the vaccine for all those who receive a token on a given day. As of Thursday, all districts have stopped the mega vaccination camps, mainly outside hospitals, which were started earlier to promote vaccination, ”sources said.

The IMA Kerala unit warned on Thursday that the state’s chaotic vaccination centers would become centers of super spread of Covid-19, as social distancing is not maintained in those centers. “Kerala has an effective vaccination mechanism and cold chain system. Our primary immunization system is very strong. Vaccination against Covid-19 should be introduced in all hospitals, public and private, where other vaccination programs are held regularly, ” the IMA said in a statement.

Meanwhile, only 2.52 doses of lakh vaccine were in stock in Kerala when immunization day ended on April 21. 5.50 lakh doses are expected to reach Kerala on Thursday.

The state health department has missed the daily vaccination target consecutively in recent days due to the shortage of vaccines, Covaxin and Covishield. As of April 21, the state had targeted 3,95,014 shots, but could only administer 1,03,230 shots, which is only 26% of the target. Due to the shrinking vaccine supply, the number of vaccination centers was reduced to 662 on Wednesday from the 1,400 figure last week.

Kerala plans to vaccinate 1.13 million people over 45 by May 20. Therefore, the health department had planned to ensure the vaccination of 2.5 lakh per day and reach the goal by May 20 at the latest.