Kochi: The High Court of Kerala on Friday sought to know when the Centre would address the shortage of anti-COVID-19 vaccine in the State.
The court was considering a case, which it had suo motu registered based on media reports about overcrowding at vaccination centres. It also asked the Central government to specify the date on which it would meet the State’s demand for more vaccines.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on Wednesday written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking more vaccines; about 50 lakh doses of Covishield and 25 lakh Covaxin doses.
Responding, the Centre submitted before the court that the vaccine was being distributed based on the population and the spread of the pandemic. It also said Kerala has been provided the required vaccine.
Saying that it was not expecting statements, the court observed that an action plan was required for the distribution of the vaccine.
People have been apprehensive about not getting the vaccine and hence were thronging the vaccination centres in large numbers, violating the COVID-19 protocol. The court requested all to realize that such a rush would further aggravate the situation.
Directing the police to coordinate with authorities concerned to avoid crowding at vaccination centres, the court ordered the Director General of Police to issue all police stations a circular to provide required help round-the-clock.
Rush for vaccine continues
Despite the High Court suo motu registering a case, huge crowds were seen at the vaccination centre at General Hospital Ernakulam from early morning. Consequently, police were forced to intervene to control the crowd and make people queue up.
Hospital sources said people started arriving for the second dose as early as 4am on Friday. A huge crowd had formed by the time employees arrived and started issuing tokens at 9am. It was then that the police stepped in.
A senior citizen from Thoppumpady said he had to return disappointed on Thursday. He had reached the centre at 5am following an announcement that the vaccine would be available. After a long wait, people were sent back, saying Covishield was not available.
He said only 150 tokens were distributed on Friday morning. The man, who did not wish to be named, told Manorama Online that the absence of specific instructions was creating a huge rush and chaos. He had visited several other centres in the district for the vaccine.
Lack of information on the interval between the two doses and absence of proper directives have been forcing many to reach the centre before dawn. The interval between doses was earlier said to be 28 days, which was later changed to 46 days.
Though the chief minister had clarified that the second dose needs to be received after 90 days, many people have not taken his words on face value. They have been adding to the chaos at the centre.
Concerns over the surge in COVID-19 cases in the district, too, have been driving people to the centre in large numbers. Most of them, however, have been ignoring the fact that overcrowding could expedite the spread of the virus. Additionally, heated arguments between the employees and those not getting the jab have become frequent.
It was announced that 82 centres would be providing the vaccine from 10am to 2pm on Friday. Each centre has been allotted 150 doses of Covishield, of which 120 have been set aside for administering the second dose.
While online registration has been made mandatory for receiving the first dose, those seeking the second one could register themselves at the centre.