Maharashtra will proceed with a soft launch of vaccination from Monday, allowing senior citizens and people with co-morbidities to walk into government vaccination centres for immunisation. Private hospitals will join in the next few days.
Registration on CoWIN portal to pre-schedule a vaccination slot is expected to begin from Monday, but people may face software lag due to heavy traffic.
Until Sunday midnight, the upgraded software was under testing mode. State officials believe it will take a few days for the entire process to be streamlined.
In Mumbai, for now five vaccination centres will open for senior citizens and co-morbid population in BKC Jumbo Covid Center, Mulund Jumbo Covid Center, Nesco Center, Seven Hill Hospital and Dahisar Jumbo facility. BMC has shortlisted 53 hospitals for vaccination. “But manpower and arrangements for vaccination will take time. Our teams have to inspect these hospitals first,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani. HJ Doshi hospital, KJ Somaiya hospital and SRCC Children Hospital will also act as vaccination centres in a few days.
The state public health department held online training for close to 1,000 private hospitals empanelled with Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY) to run the CoWIN software.
“Several hospitals have transferred funds to state government to procure vaccine doses. Vaccines will be distributed to them from various cold storage points,” said Dr Sudhakar Shinde, CEO of MJPJAY.
State officials said private hospitals will require a few more days to set up vaccination rooms, prepare staff and set up teams to monitor adverse events following immunisation. Starting Monday, vaccine distribution to private hospitals will begin.
Last week, in a video conference of health ministry, states were asked to finish training of hospitals by March 3, submit lists of vaccination centres by March 4, and scale up vaccination from March second week. “Our preparations are under way, but central government is in a hurry to begin vaccination from March 1. We will allow walk-in vaccination for now,” a senior official from the Maharashtra government said.
In Beed, district health officer Dr Radhakishan Pawar said they plan to vaccinate whoever walks in on first-come-first-serve basis for the first few days. “We need to prepare our centres to handle crowds and simultaneously immunise health and frontline workers,” he said.
While the health ministry has issued no guidelines, for those in prisons, old age homes, mental hospitals and institutional care, special camps may be required for immunisation. State health secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas said ‘cohort mobilisation’ will be done for them. “We will take special steps,” he said.
Dr Sadhana Tayade, director of Directorate of Health Services, said they will wait for central government directions. “Vaccination of people in mental hospitals will require informed consent, for prisons special drives will be needed,” she said.
In Mumbai, 40 government and private hospitals have been shortlisted as centres. In Seven Hills hospital, in-charge Dr Balkrishna Adsul said he plans to open a special outpatient section for people with co-morbidities to get on-the-spot medical examination and medical certificate. “Several may come without a medical certificate from the physician. Our aim is to immunise the high-risk population without any hassle. We plan to post doctors at vaccination centre to take medical history, check blood pressure and sugar levels and provide certificate. People can come with prescriptions also,” Adsul said.
For Monday, vaccination centres plan to reserve 40-50 per cent of doses for walk-in recipients. Adsul said they expect a lukewarm response in initial days. In Sion hospital, dean Dr Mohan Joshi said the hospital can vaccinate 1,000 people a day.
Dr Archana Patil, director (family welfare), Directorate of Health Services in Maharashtra, said the central government has clarified that people who have only diabetes or only hypertension will not be eligible for vaccination. “But a person with either hypertension or diabetes with other complications like kidney, heart, respiratory disease will be eligible,” she said. People who require ‘high support’ due to disability, for instance paraplegic or quadriplegic, will be eligible too.
People can register themselves through CoWIN mobile app or cowin.gov.in to book a slot in vaccination centre.