Vaccines falling brief, Maharashtra Health Minister’s Jalna district obtained additional doses

Rajesh Tope

From April 7 to 9, when a number of districts in Maharashtra needed to shut down their vaccination centres on account of scarcity of vaccines, Jalna stood out, with a surplus that might final at the very least 10 extra days.

Home to Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope, Jalna district obtained 60,000 vaccine doses greater than its allotment of 17,000 when recent provides of 26.77 lakh doses had been obtained by the state from the Centre on March 31 — and distributed to all districts.

Sources mentioned Tope referred to as Health Department officers and requested them to extend the allocation to his district to 77,000 doses. Tope informed The Indian Express “no particular district was preferred” and that if Jalna obtained extra shares, this was finished “to encourage more vaccination”. “We distributed doses to primary health centres and sub centres to increase vaccination,” the minister mentioned, noting that in opposition to the state common of 27% of the goal inhabitants receiving vaccinations, Jalna had achieved simply 18.1% on the time.

But this went in opposition to each the factors on which the Maharashtra public well being division distributes doses: a district’s every day efficiency of vaccination and energetic circumstances. On March 31, Jalna had 773 energetic circumstances, decrease than 30 districts. In phrases of every day vaccinations, its determine of 600-1,000 until March finish put it among the many 10 lowest-performing districts.

State immunisation officer Dr DN Patil diverted 60,000 doses from Aurangabad to Jalna on April 1. Aurangabad, additionally one of many six divisional storage centre for vaccines within the state, had obtained 1.95 lakh doses, primarily based on its 7,000-8,000 every day vaccinations.

At that time Jalna was conducting simply 600-1000 vaccinations a day. At this charge, it had sufficient vaccine doses to final 15-18 days when different districts had shares just for five-10 days. Following the additional doses, Jalna elevated every day vaccinations to three,000-5,000 within the first week of April.

Meanwhile, between April Eight and 9, officers throughout Maharashtra districts made frantic requires extra provides to the state well being division. Finally, Tope allowed switch of 15,000 doses from Jalna to close by districts.

Immunisation officer Dr Patil didn’t reply to calls or textual content messages.

Jalna’s neighbouring districts obtained decrease doses regardless of performing higher than it on every day vaccination numbers and having extra Covid circumstances. Beed, that within the final week of March was vaccinating 3000-5,000 individuals per day and had 4,296 energetic circumstances, obtained 30,800 doses on April 1; Latur with 3,000-5,000 every day vaccinations and 5,931 energetic circumstances obtained 53,800 doses; and Parbhani with 2,000-3,000 vaccinations and 4,944 circumstances obtained 21,500 doses.

Only 9 districts with vaccination numbers greater than Jalna (between 8,000-40,000) obtained extra shares than it on April 1.

Sources mentioned Tope “insisted” on allotting Jalna extra inventory on March 31 as a result of Maharashtra had obtained an enormous provide from the Centre. Before that in addition to later, the state obtained restricted shares ranging between 5-14 lakh doses.

Among the districts and companies that shut down a number of vaccination centres between April 7 and 9 as a consequence of zero shares had been Satara, Navi Mumbai, Mumbai and Sangli. On April 7, Jalna had over 50,000 doses. Mumbai needed to shut 25 personal centres on April Eight and 50 centres on April 9.

District well being officers mentioned they requested the state authorities, together with Tope, to urgently ship extra shares. “We reasoned with the minister that stocks in Jalna would sit for days as other districts suffered. He eventually agreed to divert stocks from Jalna,” an official mentioned.

On April 8, Jalna transferred 15,000 doses, to Washim, Yavatmal and Parbhani. “A few centres could not function for a day-and-a-half,” mentioned Dr Avinash Aaher, Washim’s district well being officer.

Dr Vivek Khatgaonkar, district well being officer in Jalna, mentioned doses had been moved to different districts when scarcity was reported. In Yavatmal, district well being officer Dr Hari Pawar mentioned their provide is all the time restricted.

Incidentally, on April 7 and eight, Tope red-flagged the acute vaccine scarcity in Maharashtra, receiving in flip a trenchant response from Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan that the state had sufficient shares.

Till May 2, Jalna had administered 2.06 lakh doses, whereas bettering its every day capability to 13,000 doses.