Vaccinations for the working population between the age group 18-45 years started on May 1 at the height of the second wave. However, paucity of doses and high demand has meant too much on ground trouble for the working population of the city to get jabbed. The sweltering Delhi heat and the long queues outside government vaccination centres have only worsened the situation.
The trouble for me began from getting a slot on the Cowin app. A midnight search for slots to open ended with my spouse and sister-in-law playing 'fastest-finger-first' on the government app. Call it coincidence or fate, my spouse got a centre around 12 kilometres away in a hospital from our home whereas I got a slot in Mayur Vihar, which is 18 kilometres away from my South Delhi residence.
The centre was located in a primary school. The slots were specifically for those receiving the second shot in the city. A long serpentine line was already in place for the 12-1 pm slot. Despite reaching on time, the morning time slots were not yet finished and those who arrived on time were made to wait for at least 45 minutes in the first line before the line was escorted inside the school. There was another wait in the line before we were all taken and made to wait another 15-20 minutes inside a classroom to await our turn.
Unwieldy primary government school benches were the only sitting arrangement for everyone in the 18 to 45 age group that included homemakers, young boys and girls and middle-aged working men and women.
The shortage of vaccines was a leveller when it came to discomfort for all. There were people who turned up at the vaccination centre in their chauffeur driven Mercedes as well on bikes. The long wait was common for both the classes of population who turned up to vaccinate themselves.
After a long hour and fifteen minutes of haranguing wait, I was taken to the lone jab unit set up in a classroom. The nursing staff confided in me that 18-44 age group vaccination has indeed been very slow. He didn’t reveal whether it was due to the shortage of vaccines for the booster dose. He said that many jab syringes that were procured were of inferior quality and were giving away very easily. This was delaying the process further, as per the frontline worker.
The post vaccination complications and the actual process of vaccination was way smoother as compared to the process right from finding a slot to the long wait in the sun, and then awaiting your turn.
A number of new slots have opened up on CoWIN for 18-44 of Covaxin; those who need to get the second dose can register, said Aam Aadmi party leader Atishi Marlena on Monday. She also added that 40,000 doses of Covaxin arrived for 18-44 on Monday, which will be used to administer the second dose only.
"We hope that with this, the panic amongst youngsters who had taken the first dose in May will come to an end," explained Atishi.
Hope her words ring true as a first-hand visit by this writer revealed that the 45 plus slots are available in abundance. However, the 18-45 age group vaccine slot for both the first and second dose is indeed the elephant in the room. Rising cases and vaccine availability anxiety otherwise is taking the better of the country’s working population.