Covid-19 vaccine shortage: Tamil Nadu health minister to meet Harsh Vardhan

This week, as many centres claimed they had vaccines to inoculate only 100 people per day, crowds were spotted outside PHCs across Tamil Nadu from as early as 5 am.

Tamil Nadu health minister Ma Subramanian is set to meet Union minister for health Harsh Vardhan in New Delhi on Friday, to brief him about the shortage of Covid-19 vaccines in the state.

Subramanian will be accompanied by Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan. They will also discuss with Vardhan the AIIMS project in Madurai and MBBS admissions to 11 colleges in Tamil Nadu.

The Covid-19 vaccination drive in the state hit a roadblock this week due to shortage of doses. Health officials said while people were willing to get the shot and the administration had all measures in place, vaccines stocks were exhausted.

In this week, as many centres claimed they had vaccines to inoculate only 100 people per day, crowds were spotted near Primary Healthcare Centres across the state from as early as 5 am. There have been complaints that many vaccination centres administered only the second dose of Covid-19 vaccines.

Also, the state government had started special vaccination camps for the differently abled, pregnant women, lactating mothers, labourers, and other groups, which have had to be stopped.

Addressing reporters on Tuesday, Subramanian said the state has 63,460 doses of vaccines in hand. Commenting on BJP state president L Murugan’s demand to submit a white paper on the availability of vaccines and other details, Subramanian said so far, the state has received 1,57,76,550 doses and they have administered 1,58,78,600. He said Tamil Nadu paid Rs 99.84 crore and procured 29,92,000 doses of vaccines directly, apart from the Centre’s supply.

“Though the RTI Act, we came to know that nearly four lakh doses were wasted during the previous government. Around 10-12 persons can be vaccinated with a vial, but health workers would open a vial even if there were four beneficiaries present and rest of the doses would go waste. We now take the number of people into account and open vials accordingly. Through effective administration, we have avoided wastage,” he said.

The minister said people have been informed of the vaccine shortage, and that the next lot would arrive only on July 11. Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said they have requested the Union government to allocate more vaccines before the scheduled date.

Subramanian also said that so far, Tamil Nadu has reported 3,300 black fungus cases and 122 related deaths. He appealed to people to seek medical advice on time for early treatment.

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