Two Corona vaccines of Covaxin and Covishield are administrated free to frontline workers, senior citizens and now upto 45 years of age since April 1. So far Central Government was supplying the vaccines free and the states are implementing the programme by involving its doctors, paramedical staff, nurses, and ANMs and ASHA-workers. In addition to government hospitals and dispensaries, camps are also organized at places provided by social and religious organizations. All basic facilities are available in government arranged camps and those who need more comforts may get themselves vaccinated by paying Rs250 per dose in private hospitals. The campaign may resulted in vaccination of about 15 crore citizens till 30April.
Everyone will agree that health is one of the basic necessities and Politics is played on the issue of free or paid vaccination. Pharmas manufacturing corona vaccines have come with their prices to be charged from the states. From May 1, all citizens above 18 years will also be vaccinated and 24 States have already announcement it to be free and the Central Government’s free vaccination for those above 45 years will continue. Free vaccine may be desirable but the absolute freeness should not result in mismanagement and sub-optimal utilization of our scarce facilities and heath workers. To substantiate, I am illustrating some examples from field in Rohtak district of Haryana where I have been closely monitoring a vaccination camp by a Trust near to my residence. Moreover, I am in continuous contact of some ASHA-workers who are involved in mobilizing the eligible citizen for vaccination.
The Camp by the Trust started from 15 March and ended on 23 April 2021. A team of two health workers deputed by CMO of the district had come for 33 days. The trust provided seating place for heath workers and the citizens. The Trust even provided free transport facilities to Sr. citizen on demand. Trust has personally contacted its 1000 members in advance. The person vaccinated on first day were 171 but the number crashed after that day and revived only after 15 April when the news of oxygen shortage and havoc due to pandemic is continuously aired by media (Figure-1)
Figures shows that the team would have easily vaccinated about 150 persons per day but its average was just 50 persons in 33 days. It means two third capacity of health workers was not utilized. Sometimes due to non availability of sufficient number persons the vaccines in combination 10 may have been wasted.
Similarly, the ASHA workers of Baland village have reported that they are visiting their allotted houses daily to mobilize people as per the order of Doctors and ANMs. The type of comments, heard by them are such as vaccinated persons will die in four years, ladies will become infertile or give birth to unhealthy child and they have no disease are living well without the vaccine. Some elder males rebuked them, “you are daily coming to our house, don’t you have any other work and so on?” Such sub-utilization and attitude need some hard decisions to communicate. I remember in a Chandigarh middle sector, we used to park our vehicles besides service lanes and the police used to lift 2/3 vehicles every third month. Once I asked them why do not make announcement. Their reply was; announcement is continuous phenomenon but their fine commutate like forest fire. Therefore, government may announce free vaccines for a fixed period for different age groups and then charge a reasonable fee per dose, I am certain it will be most effective commutation for optimum utilization of health workers and also contain the rumors as above.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
END OF ARTICLE