Tuesday, December 6

West Bengal: Golden generation sees silver lining in vaccine

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Thousands of eager senior citizens and 45+ people with comorbidities rushed to hospitals to get inoculated on Monday, but the health ministry’s Co-WIN portal crashed within minutes of the launch of community vaccination, leaving them stranded for hours and worrying about the fallout of waiting in crowded and confined spaces for such long periods. Despite the confusion and delay, most recipients refused to return home without receiving the jab.

Hundreds also turned up at the hospitals for spot registration after failing to register on the Co-WIN portal or app in the morning. The health ministry in the afternoon clarified that the Co-WIN mobile app is meant for use only by administrators, and registration for appointment has to be done only on

While some hospitals are planning to continue spot registration on Tuesday, others said all their slots were booked online for the next few days.

Monday’s vaccination drive at the 25 centres in the city finally got underway around 2.30pm after health officials instructed hospitals to maintain all data manually and upload these once the portal was up.

At RG Kar Medical College, where senior citizens started arriving from 10am, everything was smooth till the portal went off right after 79-year-old Lalit Mohan Chakraborty of Nagerbazar, the first recipient, received his shot. The vaccination officer failed to enter the data in the portal even after repeated attempts. Surya Shaw, 65, from Shyambazar was still waiting for his turn at 2pm. “I don’t know how long I will have to wait but I will not return without taking the shot,” he said.

Surya Shaw, 65, from Shyambazar reached the hospital around noon. Two hours later, he was still waiting for his turn, with several ahead of him in the queue. “It is already 2pm. I don’t know how long I will have to wait,” Shaw said. Vaccination resumed at the hospital around 2.30pm.

The wait was longer for Swapan Kumar Sarkar, 76, of New Alipore who arrived at Medical College and Hospital at 2pm. But the septuagenarian was determined not to go back home without receiving the jab. “I have waited for more than two hours now. But I don’t know whether I will be allowed to take the vaccine on another day if I go back home. So I will take the vaccine today itself even if the wait is long,” Sarkar told TOI around 4pm.

At Beliaghata ID hospital, community medicine specialist Sanjib Bandyopadhyay had to pacify the waiting senior citizens, who were agitated at the long wait. Only five persons had been vaccinated at the hospital when the portal crashed. “I was worried that I would be asked to come back another day as the portal was not working. Though the wait was close to three hours, I finally got inoculated,” said Guru Prasad Nag, 75, a Beliagha resident.

Rabindra Lahiri, a cancer patient from Tollygunge wanted to register himself on Monday. While his wife’s registration could be done before the system went off and she got vaccinated at AMRI Hospital Dhakuria, Lahiri could not get the vaccine shot. “He had barely stepped out of home due to his vulnerability during this pandemic. He was hopeful of getting the vaccine today. But the portal failure has left him upset,” said a relative.

Health officials said they had feared such a problem but could do nothing as the portal is maintained by the Union health ministry. “We were instructed not to conduct the vaccination offline. So we had to wait for further instructions. This problem caused a lot of inconvenience to the senior citizens,” said an official at IPGMER.

But there were other like Arabinda Kar, 75, who went back, choosing not to brave the long wait in a confined space. Kar visited AMRI Hospital in Mukundapur, hoping to receive a shot. He had failed to register online but the hospital staff promised to help him. “I was asked to wait with scores of other recipients. After a while, I felt scared since it was a closed and crowded place, which I had been avoiding for a year. Also, there could have been Covid patients there, so I chose to leave without the vaccine. I plan to register online in the next few days so that I don’t have to wait,” Kar said.

Source: Times of India

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