Vaccine shortage prompts Bengaluru city dwellers to head to rural districts for jabs; local residents express anger

Since the last few days, Bengaluru city residents in the age group of 18 to 44 have been booking vaccine slots on CoWIN website to get their jabs in neighbouring districts of Bengaluru rural, Chikkaballapur, Ramanagara, and Tumkuru.

Amid an acute shortage of Covid-19 vaccines, Bengaluru city dwellers are heading to nearby rural districts to get inoculated, fuelling anger among local residents who are now complaining of non-availability of vaccines in rural areas surrounding Bengaluru city.

Since the last few days, Bengaluru city residents in the age group of 18 to 44 have been booking vaccine slots on CoWIN website to get their jabs in neighbouring districts of Bengaluru rural, Chikkaballapur, Ramanagara, and Tumkuru. They are travelling at least 50 to 70 km away from the city to get vaccinated, creating shortage for people living in rural areas.

Residents in neighbouring districts say they aren’t aware of booking slots through the CoWIN application and use a token system to get the jab. Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Prasanna, a resident of Gudibande taluk in Chikkaballapur district, said, “In Gudibande taluk general hospital, you can see only people from the Bengaluru city from the last few days for vaccination. The people from our taluk are not getting vaccine slots because of people from Bengaluru city. The city residents are misusing COWIN registration since the people of Gudibande don’t know how to register online.”

The districts around Bengaluru have taluk hospitals and village Primary Health Care centres (PHC) where slots are available and tech-savvy Bengaluru residents have managed to get vaccinated at these centres.

Apart from this, a few Twitter handles are also putting out vaccine slot details to help city residents book slots in villages near the city. Bangalore Vaccine Updater (@Blore-Vaccine), a Twitter handle, is putting out updates about vaccine slots in rural centres. Besides, several telegram channels are also sending updates about vaccine slots in rural districts to tech-savvy Bengaluru residents.

Sudhir Srinivasan, who received his first vaccine shot at Chintamani in Chikkaballapur district, wrote on Twitter, “Reached at 9.10 am. Got tokens around 9.40 am. Vaccines arrived at 10.30 am. They prioritized the second dose so it took a bit longer. But I was out at 11.15 am. Around half the recipients were from Bengaluru. Line moves fast.”

The rural residents are complaining that authorities are allowing outsiders, who are not from there, to get their quota of vaccines. “I went to Devanahalli taluk general hospital on Tuesday morning where I saw only five to six locals; the rest were all from Bengaluru. The vaccine is meant for our districts and not for Bengaluru residents,” Ranganath, a resident of Devanahalli told Indianexpress.com.

Meanwhile, the rural district authorities said that giving vaccines to anyone is allowed since it is legal. Speaking to Indianexpress.com, K Srinivas, District Commissioner of Bengaluru rural district said, “People can get slots for vaccination anywhere since the Cowin registration allows them to do it and it is legal and we have to give the vaccines. But yes, residents from Bengaluru city coming to the rural district to take jab will create a shortage of vaccine to the residents of a rural district. Hence we have brought up this issue with the Bengaluru city administration and we are working to resolve it.”

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