Shortage of Covid-19 vaccines in Rajasthan has led to the government shutting down many vaccination centres across the state. According to the Rajasthan health department, the state was left with only 580 doses as of Tuesday and the decline in the number of doses began last week.
Rajasthan health minister Raghu Sharma told Outlook that since January 2021, the state received 2,26,18,210 vaccines, which included doses of both Covaxin and Covishield. However, on Tuesday it was left with only 580 doses leading to most of the vaccine centres to shut down. "Out of the 2.26 crore vaccine doses that we received, around 2.15 lakh were supplied to the army whereas close to 2.24 crore doses were distributed in 33 districts of Rajasthan. The vaccines allotted to Rajasthan for July is inadequate and we have repeatedly asked the Centre to increase the number for the smooth conduction of the vaccination drive,” Sharma told Outlook.
Both Rajasthan Chief Minister, as well as the health minister, have written letters to the Prime Minister and the Union Health Minister, respectively, demanding more vaccines. "Central government has allocated 48 lakh doses for government hospitals and 16 lakh doses for private hospitals. The state needs at least 75 lakh doses to vaccinate those who are due to receive their second dose and 75 lakh more doses for first-timers. Hence, we had demanded a requisite of 1.5 crore doses for July. But so far, we have only received 8.75 lakh doses out of the 18 lakh that have been allocated for the first half of the month," Sharma added.
The halt in the vaccination drive has caused inconvenience to many, who are awaiting to get their jabs. "My parents are eligible for the second dose and it has already been more than 12 weeks. We have been going to the nearest vaccination centre since Sunday and it is shut. The board outside reads no vaccine available," Pinky PUrohit, a resident of Sanganer in Jaipur who is also due to receive her first dose told Outlook. While most centres in the state have not been functioning for the last two days, around 30-40 percent of vaccine centres have not had any stocks since last week.
Interestingly, Rajasthan was the first state to create a record by administering the first 50 lakh doses and it was the second state to administer one crore doses. It was also the first state in the country to breach the two-crore vaccination mark.
Meanwhile, reacting to the vaccine shortage, Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan tweeted a press release issued by the Government of India on Tuesday which said that states have been requested to indicate to the health ministry in case more doses of vaccine are required by them. "It is clarified that the states/UTs had been informed adequately in advance about the total doses that will be made available to them as well as to the private sector hospitals during the month of July 2021. By July 1, Rajasthan had over 1.69 lakh unutilised balance doses of vaccines available and that under the National COVID Vaccination Program, the state has received over 8.89 lakh doses of vaccines between July 1 and 6, free of cost, from the Centre,” reads the press release.
“In addition, Rajasthan would receive an additional 39 lakh 51 thousand doses during the remaining part of July 2021. Hence in the entire month of July 2021, Rajasthan will receive more than 50 lakh 90 thousand vaccine doses. This quantity may increase further depending on the production and availability of the vaccine doses," the press release issued by the Government of India reads.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday said that Rajasthan had to stop the vaccination drive in most districts of the state due to the unavailability of the doses. The CM had accused the central government of not providing the required amount of doses to the state.