Srinagar, June 4: Most stock of the indigenous COVID19 vaccine - Covaxin - which had been procured by J&K Government on 01 May, remains mostly unconsumed in Srinagar. Four more vaccination sites, exclusively for this vaccine have been added here to accelerate its uptake.
People in the age group of 18-44 years can now choose between CoviShield and Covaxin as more vaccination sites have been opened for the latter.
Director General Health, Family Welfare and Immunization, Dr Saleem ur Rehman, said Covaxin would now be available at PHC Zadibal, UPHC SR Gunj, CHC Gousia Khanyar, SDH Hazratbal and UPHC Batamaloo. He said people can register on the CoWin portal and get vaccinated at these sites. “We have increased sites to expedite vaccination,” he said.
Dr Rehman said J&K had a stock of over 50,000 doses of Covaxin. “It is costlier than CoviShield but we purchased it at a time when there was no vaccine available to buy from Serum Institute of India,” he said. He said that J&K was currently procuring vaccines from SII for the 18-44 year age group and for the 45 year plus age group, vaccines were being provided free by GoI.
A senior healthcare administrator said Divisional Commissioner Kashmir P K Pole on Wednesday directed the Health Department to increase Covaxin centers in Srinagar from the present one to five. Covaxin was available only at SMHS Hospital till now
J&K Government had procured 1.5 lakh doses of Covaxin on 01 May, concurring with the India-wide start of vaccination of 18-44 years age group. The vaccination for this age group was started in two districts only – Jammu and Srinagar. However, only one vaccination site was opened for Covaxin in Srinagar. A senior healthcare official said when Kashmir division was struggling with poor supply of vaccines in May, the site continued to have limited vaccine slots open and stock was not even redistributed to tide over the dearth. “For some reason, despite having a good stock of Covaxin, Srinagar continued to have only one vaccination site for the 18-44 year age group,” the official said.
In one month, as per official figures, out of 75,000 doses of Covaxin, 50,000 remain unused. Many doctors said “calculated hesitancy” against Covaxin had re-emerged recently due to reports of it being unapproved by the World Health Organization.