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20% govt centres shut amid vaccine shortage in Punjab

The shortage of vaccine is hitting the state’s strategy of inoculating more people and stopping the Covid surge.

For the past two days, vaccine stock at several government-run centres has dried up, forcing the government to shut 20 per cent of these centres. Besides, several private hospitals have suddenly been eliminated as vaccination centres after a new rule made it mandatory that only Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana-empanelled hospitals will be allowed to give the jab.

As a result, against a target of vaccinating 2 lakh persons a day, the state’s daily vaccination is down to an average of just 85,000 a day. The state has just 1.83 lakh doses of Covishield and 1.59 lakh of Covaxin left. To date, 25.50 lakh persons in the state have been vaccinated, which is 10 per cent of the state’s population.

The closure of vaccination centres is confusing those who are scheduled to get their second dose.

Hinting at political bias in dose administration, Dr GS Grewal, a Ludhiana-based doctor who is also former president of Punjab Medical Council, told The Tribune: “With some centres closed, patients are left in the lurch. Strangely, while some non-empanelled hospitals have been eliminated, some camps are being organised by politicians for their constituents and as many vaccine doses are being diverted there.”

The state health department denied the charge. Hussan Lal, Secretary, Health, said all eligible persons were getting vaccinated, and anyone organising special camps was being issued vaccine doses. “This is not being done at the cost of cutting back on the vaccination programme being run through the designated vaccination centres,” he said.

Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said though they had set up the infrastructure to vaccinate 3 lakh persons a day, they were not getting enough vaccine to meet the target.

Sought 15L, got 2L

“We had sought 15 lakh doses of Covishield and Covaxin, but got just 2 lakh. It is sad that the Centre is biased even in the midst of a raging pandemic.” —Balbir Singh Sidhu, Health Minister

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