No fresh registrations for Covid vaccination will be allowed for healthcare and frontline workers, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Saturday.
In a letter dated April 3, Bhushan wrote to State chief secretaries informing them that the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry had received inputs that some vaccination centres were violating guidelines by registering ineligible beneficiaries as healthcare (HCW) and frontline workers (FLW) and getting them vaccinated.
“There has been a 24 per cent increase in HCW database in the past few days,” Bhushan said in the letter. The issue was discussed with state representatives on April 3 and it was decided that no fresh registrations would be allowed under the two categories.
Registration for those aged 45 years and above will continue on the CoWin portal, the letter added.
The first phase of the vaccination drive, which began on January 16, was limited only to healthcare workers. From February 2, it was extended to frontline workers. Persons aged 60 years and above and those aged 45 years and above, with 20 specific co-morbidities, were eligible for vaccination from March 1. The third phase of the drive began from April 1 for the age group of 45 years and above.
“All efforts have been made in close collaboration with the states and union territories to saturate vaccination of HCW and FLW. While tracking the progress for completing the vaccination of all HCWs and FLWs with the first dose, the timeline was extended multiple times and was fixed at February 25 for HCWs and March 6 for FLWs. Around a month has elapsed and new groups have been identified subsequently,” the letter pointed out.
While vaccination of HCW and FLWs of those who are registered should be completed, no new registrations should be allowed, Bhushan said.
More than 7.5 crore beneficiaries have received Covid vaccine across the country. Over 6.5 crore have got the first dose, while more than one crore have got the second dose. Till April 4, Maharashtra has vaccinated more than 73 lakh beneficiaries. According to state health officials, Maharashtra was able to achieve a record 4.62 lakh vaccinations on a single day (April 4) across 4,102 Covid vaccination centres.
While Mumbai, Thane and Nagpur are now posting high vaccination numbes daily, Pune district has now started inoculating more than 70,000 beneficiaries every day. A campaign has also been launched in the district to start vaccinating more than a lakh persons daily from April 5.
According to Sudhir Mehta, Coordinator of Pune platform for Covid response and President of MCCIA, to achieve these numbers, they have roped in all Ganesh Mandals to volunteer for the vaccination drive in their respective localities. Close to 100 NGOs and social organisations also mobilised their teams for raising vaccine awareness, site management and crowd management. Over 200 hospitals have planned to set up additional vaccination sites to meet the target, he said.
“With increased vaccination centres, our hospitals have recruited additional staff, most of whom are still not vaccinated. The volunteer groups who are the major drivers of our vaccination campaigns and smooth implementation are also not eligible for vaccination. This new directive from the Union health ministry has taken us back various miles in our journey towards safeguarding Pune district that is going through an emergency crisis situation with close to 10,000 cases a day and average 50 daily deaths,”Mehta said.
He pointed out that the number deaths have been increasing daily, creating anxiety among the volunteer groups. Given the situation, volunteers, frontline and healthcare workers, who are not covered by the vaccination drive, are now backing out, Mehta said. Urging the health ministry to review its latest directive, Mehta said it dramatically affect daily vaccination numbers due to shortage of healthcare staff and volunteer short staff.