Health Ministry’s new directive says no fresh registrations for healthcare and frontline workers

While Mumbai, Thane and Nagpur are recording a high number of vaccinations daily, Pune district has now started inoculating more than 70,000 beneficiaries daily.

A new directive from the Union health secretary states that fresh registrations for the Covid-19 vaccination under categories of heathcare and frontline workers will not be allowed.

A letter dated April 3 was issued to chief secretaries of states stating that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare received several inputs that at some vaccination centres, ineligible beneficiaries are being registered as HCWs (healthcare worker) and FLWs (frontline worker), and that they are getting vaccinated in complete violation of the prescribed guidelines.

“There has been a 24 per cent increase in the HCW database in the last few days,” Bhushan has written in the letter. The issue was discussed with state representatives on April 3, following which it was decided that no fresh registration will be allowed under these categories.

“All efforts have been made in close collaboration with states and union territories to saturate the vaccination of HCWs and FLWs. While tracking the progress for completing the vaccination of all HCWs and FLWs with the first dose, the timeline was extended multiple times and was fixed at February 25 for HCWs and March 6 for FLWs. Around a month has elapsed and new groups have been identified subsequently,” the letter stated.

While universal vaccination of HCWs and FLWs of those registered should be completed, no new registration should be made, Bhushan has directed states.

Across the country, the vaccination drive has covered more than 7.5 crore beneficiaries. Over 6.5 crore have got the first dose, while more than one crore have got the second dose. Till April 4, Maharashtra has vaccinated more than 73 lakh beneficiaries. According to state health officials, Maharashtra was able to achieve a record 4.62 lakh vaccinations on a single day on Sunday, across 4,102 vaccination centres.

While Mumbai, Thane and Nagpur are recording a high number of vaccinations daily, Pune district has now started inoculating more than 70,000 beneficiaries daily. A campaign has also been launched in the district to start vaccinating more than one lakh people daily from April 5.

According to Sudhir Mehta, coordinator of Pune platform for Covid response and president of MCCIA, to achieve these numbers, they had roped in all Ganesha mandals to volunteer for the vaccination drive in their respective localities. Close to 100 NGOs and social organisations also mobilised their teams to raise awareness, manage sites and the crowd. Over 200 hospitals planned additional vaccination sites to help achieve one lakh a day target.

“With increased vaccination centres, our hospitals have recruited additional staff, most of whom are still not vaccinated. Volunteer groups, which are major drivers of our vaccination campaigns and smooth implementation, are also not eligible for vaccination. This new directive from the health ministry has taken us back in our journey towards safeguarding Pune district that is going through an emergency crisis with close to 10,000 cases a day and an average of 50 daily deaths,” Mehta said.

He pointed out that the number of deaths were increasing, including in the younger age groups, and this was causing anxiety among volunteer groups. Given the situation, volunteers, frontline and healthcare workers not covered by vaccination were now backing out, he said.

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