Severe shortage of COVID vaccines in Gujarat; people fail to get jab even after queuing up for over 12 hours

Both Covaxin and Covishield are in short supply in most of the cities and districts of Gujarat, including Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Anand and Valsad

Representative Image
Representative Image

Nachiketa Desai

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much trumpeted COVID-19 vaccine drive is unraveling in his own state Gujarat which is facing an acute shortage of vaccine doses in all major cities, with people in the age group of 18-44 unable to receive their first shot even after waiting for their turn for more than 12 hours and returning home frustrated.

The state government was forced to extend the deadline for compulsory vaccination for business owners by ten days till July 10 as a result of the short supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses. It had on June 24 made it mandatory for owners and staff working at commercial complexes, gyms, shops, libraries, restaurants, public transport services, cinema and malls to take their first COVID vaccine dose, failing which they were barred from being at the workplaces.

The deadline for such vaccination in large 18 cities of the state was fixed for June 30 while it was July 10 for the rest of the state.

Gujarat Traders' Federation president Jayendra Tanna has expressed apprehensions about achieving the desired target even by the new deadline. “We will make all efforts to meet this deadline. But it is for the

government to arrange adequate supplies of the vaccines. The government expects businesses to fast-track vaccination, but at the same time, it should take this up in mission mode and swiftly arrange required doses everywhere,” he said.

Expressing fears of a possible conflict between shop-owners and police or enforcement authorities, Tanna said, “Today, there is no availability of vaccines in major cities like Ahmedabad. If things don’t change in these 10 days, we do fear police action. The government needs to remove this fear and create an environment of confidence and trust,” he said.

There are reports from Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat about hundreds of youth waiting for their turn for vaccines for more than 12 hours and then returning without successfully having the jab. Students who have obtained admissions in universities abroad are particularly worried about the delay as it is mandatory for them to be vaccinated to go abroad. Civic body authorities in these cities expressed their inability to scale up the vaccination drive due to short supply of the vaccines. The supply of vaccine doses in rural areas too is equally slack with primary health centres receiving minimal doses. Gujarat had administered an average of 3.85 lakh doses per day during the week ending June 27. However, this week started with a three-day average of 2.66 lakh doses till Wednesday.

The state has received only 18 lakh doses for the current week, as against 28 lakh doses it had received last week. Gujarat administers Covaxin and Covishield vaccines, both of which are currently in short supply in most of the cities and districts, including Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Anand and Valsad.

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