Vaccination drive: In Karnataka, 18+ must wait; 45+ only in govt centres | Bengaluru News – Times of India

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BENGALURU: Citing shortage of vaccines, the state government has indefinitely deferred the vaccination drive for those aged 18-44 — scheduled to begin from Saturday — while those above 45 will receive shots only at government-run health centres.
On Friday, the government asked private hospitals to return the unused stock of vaccines to the cold chain point from where they were issued.
“The vaccination will continue for 45+ at all government centres since the private hospitals are now independent to procure vaccines directly from the manufacturers and conduct their own drive,” Karnataka chief secretary P Ravikumar told TOI. The vaccination drive for 45+ will now be held at public health centres (PHCs), urban primary health centres, community health centres, taluk and district hospitals and government-run medical college/ hospitals, state health officials said.
Shots yet to arrive, says min; no clarity on new date
After repeatedly dismissing concerns about a vaccine shortage and assuring the 18+ vaccination drive would start on schedule, health minister K Sudhakar on Friday appealed to those who have registered on the Co-Win portal for the next phase not to turn up at vaccination centres on May 1.
“The third phase of the drive will be delayed as the vaccines have not yet arrived. We have made orders to Serum Institute of India in Pune for over 2 crore doses, but the official news is that they are still not prepared to give it to us early,” he said. The minister said he could not offer a date yet for the drive to begin.
The government asked private hospitals to return unused vaccines following a diktat from the Centre on April 23 to chief secretaries to reclaim the unused stock balance as on April 30. “While many hospitals have already exhausted their vaccine stock, some surrendered on Friday and got a refund,” said Dr Ravindra, medical director of Suguna Hospital and former president of Private Hospitals and nursing Homes Association (PHANA).
Private hospitals, however, are already under pressure amid rising cases and shortage of doctors, nurses and other medical staff and not keen on launching vaccination drives. Some hospitals, which have placed orders with Serum Institute of India (Covishield) and Bharat Biotech (Covaxin), have reportedly been told to expect delivery only after 4-5 months.
While the Centre has agreed to supply vaccines to state governments for inoculating those aged above 45, the state governments now have to directly buy vaccines required to vaccinate the 18-44 age group. “The ongoing drive will be slowed by at least for a month with the supply from the Centre expected to just trickle down. A consignment of 5 lakh doses is expected by May 4, but we are not sure,” said an official.
While government immunisation centres are continuing the vaccination drive with limited availability of Covishield (around 3 lakh doses), those who got the first dose of Covaxin last month may have to wait for more days to get the second shot since there is absolutely no stock. Officials said the situation is the result of uneven supply of two vaccines. Of 99.4 lakh doses supplied to Karnataka, only 10% was Covaxin.
Even the state government apparently preferred Covishield to Covaxin since its cheaper. While about 9 lakh doses of Covaxin were used as the first shot for 45+, the state government, surprisingly, has not requisitioned the Centre for adequate doses required for the second shot. Only on Friday, chief minister BS Yediyurappa reportedly directed officials to place the order for Covaxin.

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Sagar Biswas

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