After a break of two days over Co-WIN software glitches, Maharashtra is set to resume vaccination drive from Tuesday with a total of four sessions slated to be held this week. The other sessions this week will be held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in which the state is hoping to cover 1.14 lakh people. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with all 36 districts to review preparations and existing issues in the vaccination process.
On the first day of the nationwide vaccination drive, which was held on January 16, the state immunised 18,328 health workers. In total, there are 7.58 lakh health workers registered in the first phase of immunisation, and over 20 lakh frontline workers in the second phase. With few technical errors in Co-WIN software resolved by Monday, some districts were able to use the online portal to send text messages to beneficiaries to schedule their vaccination against Covid-19 for Tuesday. But several districts continued to complain of an “extremely slow processing software” till late evening.
In the Monday video conference, Thackeray discussed existing issues in software, vaccination process and ways to improve turnout of beneficiaries. On January 16, 64.3 per cent of health workers scheduled for vaccination had turned up across the state. In the Monday video call, districts have been advised to invite more beneficiaries per centre. “For one centre, our target of vaccination is 100. State has asked us to instead call 110 or 120 beneficiaries for that centre,” a district official said.
Maharashtra will have 285 sites with a target of 28,500 vaccinations on Tuesday. In Nandurbar, district health officer (DHO) Dr Nitin Borke said they began the process of sending text messages to health workers attached with primary health centres from afternoon but till evening the software was working slow. The district plans to immunise 400 people in four centres. “We have decided to invite 600 health workers for vaccination to ensure we reach as close to our target as possible. If the software remains slow, we may start calling each beneficiary between Monday and Tuesday,” Borke said.
In Osmanabad, DHO Dr HV Wadgave said they began creating a list of beneficiaries and texting them from 2 pm, Monday. “Co-WIN app is slow but eventually we were able to send messages to all 300 beneficiaries in our district,” he said.
Co-WIN is a digital platform exclusively coded to streamline the vaccination process. The app is used for creating ‘session list’ for daily vaccination, to text beneficiaries about date and venue of inoculation, to report adverse events and keep a record of those immunised. A huge traffic on the software has rendered it slow.
In Mumbai, immunisation officer Dr Sheela Jagtap said they were able to send a text message by Monday afternoon to all 4000 beneficiaries. “But to double check that each beneficiary got the message, we will be making personal phone calls to them,” Jagtap said. Several health workers may also miss checking their phone for text messages, she said. All 24 wards have been given a list of beneficiaries to call by Tuesday morning to intimate them about their appointment. “Co-WIN still has glitches. Most issues like difficulty in creating a session list, in uploading data real time have been resolved. But the software continues to be slow,” Jagtap said.
State immunisation officer Dr DN Patil said in centres where the software does not work, manual noting of beneficiaries will be undertaken on Tuesday. “This data can be uploaded later. Vaccination is more important at this point,” he said. Lack of severe adverse events in the last two days has given confidence to many to step forward for immunisation. Maharashtra has a stock of 9.83 lakh vaccine doses, of them 20,000 are Covaxin shots from Bharat Biotech. State officials said if the Centre delays the second batch of vaccines, they plan to carry phase wise immunisation to sustain the existing stock. “For 7.58 lakh beneficiaries we will require 17 lakh doses. We will take up 50-55 per cent beneficiaries and complete their both doses,” Dr Archana Patil, director, Family Welfare, Directorate of Health Services, had told The Indian Express.
Lowest number of new cases since April
Maharashtra recorded only 1,924 fresh cases of Covid-19 Monday, the lowest since April 2020. The caseload is on a consistent downward trajectory since December. In the last one week, the state has recorded less than 4,000 cases each day. The last lowest count was on January 11, when 2,438 fresh cases were recorded across Maharashtra.
State officials also said that with Covid-19 vaccination drive, testing and contact tracing has taken a back-seat. Health officials are busy with preparation of the beneficiary list, of holding vaccination camps and in uploading data of immunised health workers. Due to the weekend, overall diagnostics tests were also low. On Sunday 39,510 people were tested for Covid-19 in Maharashtra. Exactly a week before, 42,059 people were tested. The daily positivity rate (number of cases coming positive against total tests) has also dipped from 5.7 per cent to 4.8 per cent in the last one week.