The slow pace of COVID-19 vaccination by private centres in some States was a “cause of serious worry,” said Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday. He had directed the States to review the status and progress of vaccine procurement by these centres on a daily basis, Mr. Bhushan observed.
Chairing a meeting with Health Secretaries and senior immunisation officials of 15 States/Union Territories, he noted that many Private COVID Vaccination Centres (PCVCs) had not placed any indent for the earmarked quantum of vaccines.
Mr. Bhushan said he had directed the States to ensure that indents for the earmarked quantum were quickly placed with the vaccine manufacturers.
Senior health officials of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana participated in the meeting through videoconference. Nodal representatives from vaccine manufacturers Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII) were also present.
The State governments and the PCVCs were advised to ensure that the gap between the indented quantity and payment towards their procurement was reduced to zero. In some States, the quantity paid for had not been physically lifted by the States/PCVCs. They have to quickly ensure the lifting of the dispatched doses, the Health Secretary stressed.
A release issued by the Union Health Ministry said that in some States, wherever vaccine doses had been lifted by the PCVCs, their actual administration of vaccines was seen to be less than the quantity lifted. The States and PCVCs were advised to review this and ensure that the balance of unutilised vaccine doses were quickly administered.
The Health Ministry said more than 39.59 crore (39,59,21,220) doses have been provided to the States/UTs so far, through all sources and a further 30,250 doses were in the pipeline. “Of this, the total consumption, including wastages, is 38,07,68,770 doses (as per data available at 8 a.m. on Wednesday). More than 1.51 Cr (1,51,52,450) balance and unutilized COVID Vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs and private hospitals to be administered,’’ it stated.
Minister on vaccine shortage
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has rubbished allegations by State governments of vaccine shortage due to the Central government not ensuring adequate supplies.
“11.46 Cr doses of vaccine were made available to States Govts in June so that vaccination can be done through government and private hospitals,” he said in a tweet. “This availability has been increased to 13.50 Crores in the month of July.”
The States knew very well when and in what quantity they would get the doses. The Centre had done this so that they could chalk out the vaccination work up to the district-level by planning properly and people did not face any problem, he noted.
In one of his series of six tweets, he stated, “regarding the availability of the vaccine, I have come to know from the statements and letters of various state governments and leaders. This situation can be better understood by an actual analysis of the facts. Useless statements are being made only to create panic among the people.
He further tweeted, “The Central government had informed the states on June 19, 2021, about how many doses of the vaccine would be made available in the states in July. Batch wise information is given in advance only. So the states know very well when and what quantity of vaccine doses they will get’’.
He observed, “If the Centre is already giving this information in advance and yet we see mismanagement and long queues of vaccine takers, then it is very clear what the problem is and who is the reason for it”.
He also said, “The leaders who make statements (about vaccine shortage) that create confusion and concern in the media need to introspect whether they have made such a distance from the governance process and related information that they are not aware of the information already being given in the context of vaccine supply’’.