Shortages of vaccine and lack of slots make inoculation an uphill task 

18 to 44 year olds are feeling the heat as getting an OTP for allotment of a slot for vaccination and short supply of vaccines make receiving the jab a challenge, a matter of luck 

The Delhi government has issued another SOS on Sunday that they are running out of Covaxin vaccine for the age group of 18-44 years in the capital, while there are limited stocks, for 45 years plus, in the stocks. 

The government policy has been to give priority to 45 years plus while inoculating the youth—so far a total of 41.64 lakh doses have been administered in Delhi across all age categories since the inoculation drive started on January 16. The Capital has received 8.17 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines for the 18-44 category, so far, in addition, over 43 lakh doses for 45-plus, healthcare and frontline workers.

Initially there was a lot of confusion as many young people had turned up in large numbers at various government health centers for vaccination, many of them were not registered, and some of them were misguided by the government health portal about the venue. There was a lot of confusion, especially in Noida and Greater Noida, where people had to travel 30 to 40 kilometers, as far as Dadri or Jewar. 

Despite the confusion, many tried their best to get themselves allotted a time using Aarogya Setu App, however, to get the OTP was a challenge that thousands of people couldn’t circumvent, especially youth from the weaker sections of society who are not so conversant with technology. 

But there were people, who started early and were rather committed to having a slot for vaccination allotted for them to get inoculated. One such person was a young lawyer, Vishnu, 32, and his wife Sukanya. A resident of CR Park, he got his time-slotted six days in advance—at Max Medcentre, Panchsheel Park“We were given the time slot 3-6 pm on Monday last,” Vishnu informs. He left his house early at 2 pm, reached in 15 minutes—on Delhi’s congestion free roads during the lockdown. Their identity cards were verified and paperwork was done, payment was made of Rs 900 per dose, per person for Covishield vaccine. 

They were escorted to the first floor, availing the early bird advantage. “There were only a couple of people,” recounts Vishnu. They were asked to wait for half an hour after vaccines just to make sure there are no side effects. In some cases, rarely, people have reported fever, swollen lymph nodes—including neck, under the chin, in armpits and groin—or nausea or what’s described as the injection site erythema—reddening of the skin, usually in patches. 

Vishnu and Sukanya had no such problem. They took a selfie in their car after the vaccination and summed up their overall experience in one word, “good”, though he did mention that getting a slot registered through Aarogya Setu App was a challenge, so tried Co—WIN. They could only secure a slot after days of concerted efforts by Sukanya. They had to change the pin code to get a slot with the technical help of a friend. “Availability is an issue,” says Vishnu, and remains so, and now the Delhi government has issued an SOS—running out of vaccines.    

Numbers are numbing—with a majority of the population is young and falls in the age group of 18 to 44 years, and no one had any delusions that vaccination at this scale is going to be an onerous task. The initial non-availability of the vaccines delayed the whole process, and now demand far exceeds the limited supply. “I’m lucky to be vaccinated,” says Kshitiz Shukla, 27-year-old executive, “many of my friends couldn’t get vaccinated despite trying their best.”

Kshitiz got himself registered on 28 April and getting the OTP via Aarogya Setu App was very difficult. He tried for a few days relentlessly, tried another App, he finally got a slot on May 6—4 days later at Max super specialty Hospital in Vaishali. “Many of my friends didn’t,” he adds with much emphasis. 

He was allotted the 12 to 1 slot, he arrived early, was given a token ‘112’ which means 111 have been inoculated before him, out of the 300 slotted for the day. He was asked to report an hour later, so he bided his time in the car. “I felt safe inside the facility, people maintained social distance and there were air filters running,” he narrates, “there were two queues, one for the registration and the other to make the payment. There were two lab rooms designated for vaccination. I was allotted the #1, which was adjacent to the payment counter.” He waited for half an hour after the vaccination before he drove home.   

Vishnu, Sukanya and Kshtiz belong to the minority. There are many more who have failed to get a slot to get vaccinated. The problem has compounded given that the government had made it clear that there will not be any walk-in vaccination in the third phase, heavy rush has been witnessed for registration, with some taking to social media, to express their dismay with what they claimed “portal not responding” some even claimed to that it has “crashed”. One Surav Agarwal says “Co-WIN server is facing issues. (And) not able to register from Aarogya (Setu) App either. Govt. IT dept has failed to deliver a seamless (sic) registration for vaccination,” he tweeted—that went viral.  As someone famously said, “Mistakes and pressures are inevitable; the secret to getting past them is to stay calm.” Calm, too, is in dire shortage like the vaccines. 


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