Rashid Paul

People return without jabs as vaccination centres run dry in Kashmir

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Srinagar: With almost all the Covid-19 immunization centers in Kashmir running dry for the fourth consecutive day, the second wave of the killer virus continues its ruthless march, recording high fatalities and infections.

In the last 24 hours, 47 deaths were recorded in the union territory and 3832 people were detected to have been infected by the virus. And the tally continues to surge. There are around 30,000 active cases in all with over 18,000 in Kashmir Valley and the rest in Jammu region.

Amidst this horrible mayhem and lockdown, Kashmir’s premier health institute, the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura too was without the Covishield vaccine, the anti-body stimulant used across the country against the virus.

A source at the SKIMS said that hundreds of people today visited the Institute amidst the lockdown to get a jab of the vaccine but had to be sent back as the stocks had not been replenished as yet.

A senior doctor in the Directorate of Family Welfare MCH & Immunization, said fresh stocks have not come despite the matter having been taken up with the central government. He said even if the fresh stocks are dispatched they shall not be able the meet the demand for the vaccine.

He said the scare that has overcast Kashmir has led to a heightened demand for the vaccine, but supplies are too short.

According to the sources nearly all the 816 session sites including private hospitals declared as vaccination centers have been rendered dysfunctional because of the non-availability of the vaccine.

Some people also alleged that in the previous months when the people were unaware of the vaccine availability, “the stocks were sent from Kashmir to other states”.

Admitting the exhaustion of vaccine stocks, Director Family Welfare MCH & Immunization, Dr Masrat Shah said “the fresh supplies are expected very soon”.

Asked if the supplies shall be in a substantial quantity to suffice the demand, Dr Shah said “the fresh consignments of the vaccine shall be in thousands of doses.”

She, however, denied that Covishield vaccines were dispatched from Kashmir to other states. “It is not true,” she said.

“One lakh doses a day are required in Kashmir till the middle of 2022 on a daily basis to immunize its population,” said a senior Health department official.

Around two percent of the population had been administered the vaccine by the middle of April.

Meanwhile the administration has delayed the inoculation of people in the age group of 18 to 44 in the region because of the non-availability of supplies. Vaccination for this age group has been started across the country from today.

Asked why Jammu and Kashmir has failed to catch up with rest of the country in this inoculating highly productive age group from today, Dr Shah said the decision in this regard has been taken by the higher authorities based on the availability of stocks.

“However, we are launching a ceremonial function of Covaxin launch for this age group at SMHS Hospital today. People as have registered themselves online have been allowed to get vaccinated,” she said.

Kashmir, according to the officer has been provided with 75,000 doses of Covaxin for this age group by the Serum Institute of India. The vaccination for this age group is specifically restricted to Srinagar and Jammu districts.

Admitting that vaccination is the most effective arsenal to save life of the people, Dr Talat Jabeen, epidemiologist at the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir, said that people should follow the standard operating procedures to keep away from the infection.

She said the current surge of the virus in Kashmir has been due to “uncontrolled flow of outsiders, especially the tourists” into Kashmir.

She expects the surge in mortalities and infections to fall by the mid of this month.

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