Vaccine shortage may hit J&K

Enough stock for now, expecting more: Govt
Vaccine shortage may hit J&K
Representational Photo

With the vaccination drive picking up, over 45,000 people are vaccinated everyday across J&K. However, with the current stockpile of around 1.5 lakh doses, a shortage could arise in the UT within days if supply replenishment gets delayed.

In the past 85 days, 12.98 lakh people have been vaccinated in J&K, as per the official data shared by the UT Government with the union health ministry. Of these, over 5 lakh people, frontline workers and healthcare workers have received first and second doses both while nearly 8 lakh people being covered in Phase 3 of the vaccination drive have received their first doses. This phase covers all people aged 45 years and above.

The vaccination drive for select age groups among masses was sluggish in the first few weeks but data reveals, it has picked up recently. On Saturday, more than 45,000 people received their shot across the two divisions.

However, a senior health official said that J&K has only 1.45 lakh doses of Astra-Zeneca's CoviShield vaccine currently and the supply shortage that has hit various states of India is set to get to the UT as well.

Ten states in India have flagged vaccine shortage as per media reports.  "The J&K Government has been trying to get 30 lakh doses but has failed to do so for the past one week," the official said. He said with 40,000 to 50,000 people coming in for the vaccine everyday now in J&K, the current stock was set to get exhausted in three days. "The Health department may need to curtail the drive for some days now to avoid a crisis," he said.

Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo said the vaccine stock in J&K was "good for now". "With the stock that we already have we can continue the drive at the current pace for the next 3-4 days," he said, adding that the stock replenishment was expected on 13 April. "That stock, which is en route, will sustain us for over three weeks then," he said, adding that stocks to the UT were "quite regular" and that "no shortage would be allowed to hit the drive".

The official said there was disparity in the district-wise stock and vaccination coverage and redirecting of stocks from low-performing districts could help as a stop gap arrangement. "We have poor uptake of vaccine in Kupwara, Bandipora, Doda, Kishtawar and some other peripheral areas but the stock of vaccines in these districts is more than the demand currently," he said adding that Government was looking at a "new mechanism" to address the situation. With the COVID19 cases on rise in J&K, the official said, the demand for vaccine has suddenly jumped up. Moreover, he said, the coverage of the vaccine has also increased in Phase 3. "Only 15000 to 20,000 people would get the vaccine in March around this time. It is more than double now," he said.

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