COVID-19: Tamil Nadu runs out of stock, halts vaccination

Chennai, June 9 (IANS) Vaccination in Tamil Nadu has come to a grinding halt as several districts have fallen short of the required doses in the state. 39 out of the 45 health units of the state reported a shortage of vaccines.

The state is expecting 63,370 doses of Covaxin on Wednesday and another 40,000 doses on Thursday. A quantity of 3.6 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine is to be received by the state on Friday and health experts feel only after these arrivals would things get back on track.

On Tuesday, Virudhanagar MP and Congress leader B. Manickam Tagore refused to take his second scheduled Covishield vaccine as there was a shortage of vaccines in the district for the common people.

He had taken his first vaccine on April 8 and was scheduled to get his second dose on June 8 but as Government hospitals were running short of vaccines, and common man was not able to get the doses, the MP refused to accept his second dose.

Manickam Tagore told IANS: “I took my first dose of vaccine on April 8 and was scheduled to get my second jab on Tuesday, June 8 but unfortunately I came to know that there was an acute shortage of vaccines at the government hospitals and common people were not able to get the jab. When I contacted the Deputy Director of Health Services, he said that I could get vaccinated through a special arrangement and informed me that vaccination camp could not be held at the Government Medical College Hospital as stocks have run out.”

Health experts are of the opinion that if vaccines do not arrive in large quantity and the state receives vaccines in small batches it will affect the distribution of vaccines.

Joint Director Immunisation, Tamil Nadu, K. Vinaykumar told IANS: “We are expecting some of the above-said combinations of vaccine to arrive in the state ahead of schedule. If we receive vaccines in small batches it would hamper the distribution and delay vaccines.”

The immunization wing of the State Public health department has already informed the concerned district administrations that they may not be able to resume vaccination drive unless the state receives an adequate volume of stocks.

Tamil Nadu has so far received 1.01 crore doses under the state and central quota and 97.5 lakh doses have been administered.

Three lakh doses of vaccines were wasted since January 2021, according to the health department.

The state had gone for global bidding but there were no takers and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing that the Centre would procure and provide vaccines to all adults, the call for fresh bids of vaccines was scrapped.

While active cases and fresh new cases are coming down in the state, public health experts said that vaccinating a maximum number of people is important to prevent further outbreaks.

Rejina VP, an epidemiologist with the Government Medical College, Chennai told IANS: “Health experts have already warned of the possibility of a third wave and more and more people have to be vaccinated as early as possible.”