COVID Vaccinations Centres in two districts stay shut as Andhra Pradesh runs out of vaccines again

Published : April 16, 2021 19:03 IST

A deserted COVID Vaccination Centre at the Government Hospital for Chest and Communicable Diseases in Visakhapatnam April 10. The staff cited technical issues with the server and shortage of vaccines as they asked people to leave the premises. Photo: K.R. Deepak

In what is fast becoming a recurring occurrence, two districts in Andhra Pradesh—Anantapur and Srikakulam—were unable to administer even a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on April 16. COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs) stayed shut as there were no doses of the vaccine left. The situation was hardly more encouraging in Kurnool, Prakasam and YSR Kadapa districts, where just 11, 70 and 86 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine respectively were administered.

This was the second time in under a fortnight that two districts in Andhra Pradesh had run out of COVID-19 vaccine doses. On April 7, Frontline was informed by officials of the Andhra Pradesh Health, Medical and Family Welfare (HM&FW) Department that the districts of Nellore and West Godavari had run out of vaccines. They tided over the problem by getting supplies from Chennai.

With the vaccine in short supply, Andhra Pradesh was able to administer only 4,025 vaccine doses on April 16. The number of vaccinations administered at other districts were 610 in Godavari, 318 in West Godavari, 313 in Krishna, 998 in Guntur, 244 in Sri Potti Sri Ramulu Nellore, 203 in Vizianagaram, 951 in Visakhapatnam, and 221 in Chittoor. On April 15, only 25,651 vaccines doses were administered before the CVCs were closed.

Officials from the HM&FW Department said that shortage of supplies from the Centre was seriously hampering the State’s plans to immunise its 45 and above aged population. And this comes at a time when Andhra Pradesh is seeing a huge jump in the number of COVID-19 positive cases. On April 15, Andhra Pradesh reported 5,086 new COVID-19 cases, raising the State’s cumulative tally to 9,42,135 cases. The State’s active cases breached the 31,000-mark, to reach 31,710. Andhra Pradesh, which had an overall positivity test rate of 0.25 per cent in February, saw it skyrocket to an astounding 11.2 per cent on April 15.

Said an official in HM&FW Department: “Our target is to immunise 10 million people who are aged 45 years and above before the end of April. As can be seen from the vaccination drive that we conducted on April 14 when we administered 625,815 COVID-19 vaccine doses in a single day, we are on a fast-track mode. But the Government of India has to make available the vaccine doses. Our secretariat system consisting of Asha (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers, ANM (auxiliary nurse midwife) staff and village volunteers are all geared up to execute our one million vaccination target.”

Explaining the secretariat process, the official said that every village in Andhra Pradesh’s 676 mandals had been mapped by Asha workers, ANM staff and village volunteers. Said the official: “For every group of 50 families in every village, there is one village volunteer. The village volunteer, Asha workers and ANM staff have visited every village, identified the targeted population, motivated them and have registered them for the COVID-19 vaccine. Every day, we have been choosing two villages from each of the State’s 676 mandals. The residents of these villages are all called at one particular time to have their COVID-19 vaccine administered.”

Out of the State’s targeted 10 million vaccinations, Andhra Pradesh has administered 46,01,935 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine until April 16. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy recently wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting 25 lakh vaccine doses.

Officials disclosed that the State was expecting 5 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine on April 17. Said Dr Sreehari, the State Immunisation Officer (SIO): “Our secretariat system is capable of administering even 10 lakh COVID-19 doses a day. As per directions from the Chief Minister, the vaccination drive in the State will take place at the same pace in the days to come.”

Officials hope to relaunch the vaccine drive again from April 19. Dr Sreehari disclosed that they had identified hot spots such as the districts of Guntur, Chittoor and Srikakulam. These districts will get priority once the vaccine doses arrive.

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