On Monday, the government-run Shraddha Vihar hospital in Mumbai’s Andheri area saw a queue building up from 7 am. The centre had received only 100 vaccine doses – 50 reserved for people who needed to take their second shots and 50 for those getting their first. By noon, having exhausted the stocks, officials asked those still in queue to return the next day.
“For the last two weeks, this is the situation” said Dr Ajit Pampatwar, medical officer in K-West, covering Veera Desai. “We are getting limited supply that we exhaust in a day or two. Our official time is till 5 pm, but stock gets over much before that.”
On Sunday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation received 44,000 doses that it quickly distributed to over 295 centres. The stock was over by late Monday afternoon, and the centres were shut on Tuesday.
A mismatch in supply and demand coupled with the municipal corporation’s decision to “go aggressive on vaccination” has led to a situation where centres are increasingly running dry in Mumbai, even as officials and experts are awaiting a potential third wave.
This month, municipal vaccination centres have functioned for five out of 10 days. In July, centres ran for 17 days, down from 25 days in June and 24 days in May. Centres are shut on Sunday.
In July, there were not enough stocks to allow all the municipality’s 295 centres to stay open every working day. On July 20, 85 centres were open, on July 21, 64 centres and on July 29, only 67 centres functioned– one-fourth of total strength. Municipal officials said they are in constant touch with Maharashtra government to get more stocks. State officials in turn have been demanding more supply from the Central government.
Municipal corporation data shows that at least 972,106 people across Mumbai will be ready for their second doses in August. Of them, 80,278 people will be due for second dose on August 27, 62,847 people by August 28, 83,697 by August 30 and 85,698 by August 31 (August 29 is a Sunday).
But with 40,000 doses-50,000 doses being made available each day, the city may fall short of its target. Senior municipal officials said they expect a further cut in the supply to the city as Maharashtra plans to divert doses to ramp up vaccinations in the flood-affected regions of Satara, Sangli, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Kolhapur. These regions are also recording high number of new Covid-19 cases daily.
“Since disaster and flood affected area have been given priority, we are not sure how much stock we will get this month,” said Suresh Kakani, an additional municipal commissioner.
Kakani said the municipal corporation could conduct 100,000 immunisations a day and has the capacity to carry out 25 lakh a month. But it is receiving much lower stocks. Mumbai has received 1.49 lakh doses (both Covaxin and Covishield) so far this month. In July it received 9.83 lakh doses, up from 7.4 lakh in June and 4.7 lakh in May.
The municipal corporation’s immunisation officer Dr Sheela Jagtap says while the monthly supply has increased, it has not matched the rise in demand.
Mumbai's vaccination campaign, May-August
|Total doses received by municipal corporation (in lakhs)||4.7||7.4||9.83||1.49|
|Number of days vaccinations were conducted||24||25||17||5|
Plummeting private-sector demand
Another reason for the rapid consumption of vaccine doses is a shift from private to public sector. In May and June, the private sector conducted 53% of the city’s vaccinations. Through July, demand for paid vaccinations shrunk to 45% as registrations in government centres increased.
Pampatwar says they are trying to accommodate everyone. “We do not have enough doses for online booking,” he said. “So we are allowing everyone to walk-in. We reserve 50% stock for second doses and rest for first doses.”
An official from a private hospital said since a huge section of vulnerable people had already been covered, there is no urgency for vaccinations in public centres. “People are willing to wait for stock to come in government centres rather than pay for it in private,” the official said.
In Apollo Hospital, a private facility in Navi Mumbai, only 50%-60% of the slots are being booked against 100% until May. In Bandra’s Lilavati hospital, another private facility, there are a large number of slots available for anyone who wants to walk in for a jab. “We manage to receive just 200-250 people a day,” said COO Dr V Ravishankar.
Ravishankar said that Lilavati plans to stock up in anticipation of a rise in demand in August if government centres get lower stocks.
Till August 7, Mumbai had administered 75.15 lakh doses. Of 96.7 lakh people in the city aged over 18 years, 58.6% have been immunised with at least a first dose – the maximum coverage across all districts in Maharashtra.