Some 20 minor cases of reactions and over 70 refusals apart, the rollout was marked by high levels of coverage in several districts, rising to over 90% in six of them. But Mumbai, the worsthit city in the country, recorded the lowest walk-ins with barely half the targeted healthcare staff showing up for the shot. This was mainly ascribed to glitches in the Co-WIN software that was unable to send out automated messages to notify them.
The drive began post 11am after PM Narendra Modi’s address in which he paid tribute to frontline workers and warned against falling prey to rumours or propaganda. In Mumbai, it began at RN Cooper Hospital in Juhu where former health minister Dr Deepak Sawant and his wife Dr Anila, a skin specialist, took the first shots of Covishield. The 65-year-old doctor who belongs to the Shiv Sena said he was also the first to receive the H1N1vaccine.
CM Uddhav Thackeray flagged off the drive from the BKC jumbo centre with leading doctors and members of the taskforce taking the vaccine. Til ladoos were distributed at KEM Hospital while “Ganpati Bappa Morya” chants marked the start of the sessions in Rajawadi Hospital, Ghatkopar. In some hospitals, every healthcare worker who got vaccinated was given a big round of applause while some were offered snacks and tea.
In all, 18,338 (64%) of the nearly 28,500 registered healthcare staff took the shot. In Mumbai, of 4,000 intended recipients, 1,926 (48%) turned up. The civic body had activated ward level war rooms to call over 4,000 beneficiaries between 10pm and midnight on Friday after automated messages failed to go out.
Thane (76%) and Pune (58%) saw a higher percentage of turnout despite software glitches. Dhule, Buldhana, Parbhani, Beed, Solapur had over 90% coverage and Hingoli was at 100% though the number of beneficiaries in these districts were in the range of 400-1,000. “We have around 66% turnout which is more or less the same percentage as in other states. It will pick up next week,” principal health secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas said.
The CM said he was hopeful the Centre will provide more doses in due course. Maharashtra that has nearly 8 lakh healthcare workers registered has received doses only for 55%. State officials said the drive was largely uneventful as no serious cases of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) were recorded. Dr Vyas said about 10 cases of AEFI were seen. “They were very transient and minor, some not even in the strictest definition of AEFI but we noted them and mentioned,” he said. The state report compiled around 7pm, however, had 22 AEFI instances. Mumbai did not report a single AEFI case, said additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani.
Interestingly, six centres in the state where Covaxin was administered, the turnout was 64%. Mumbai saw the lowest at 39 healthworkers out of 100 coming to take the controversial vaccine while Amravati saw all 100 beneficiaries take it. State immunisation officer Dr D Patil said no AEFIs were seen in Covaxin recipients.
A total of 71 frontline health workers in Pune district refused to get the shots while another 50 from Nashik, Ahmednagar and Jalgaon districts refused. Dr D Patil told TOI, “There were none who came to the centre and refused. We can call these as delays not refusals as their names are there and they can come later.” Mumbai didn’t record any refusals in the 10 centres.