Chembur Leads the Way Amid Vaccine Crisis: A Drive Through Maha's Biggest Door-to-Door Initiative

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In one of the biggest door-to-door vaccination drives in Maharashtra, members of nearly 100 cooperative societies in Mumbai, who have tied up with Chembur’s Surana and Sethia Hospital, will get jabbed after paying a nominal fee. The hospital managing director said that they aim to vaccinate nearly 3 lakh residents by June 10, even as the financial capital battles shortage of doses.

Hospital CEO Dr Prince Surana claimed that he has enough stock to administer over 8,000 doses daily till June 10. “In June and July, we hope to vaccinate as many people as possible. We are booked till June 10 and will have drives across several societies, after that it will depend on the availability of vaccine doses. Our aim is to vaccinate close to 3 lakh people through our hospital alone by end of June,” he said, crediting the societies for letting such drives take place.

A data compiled till May 26 by the public health department showed that Maharashtra has fully vaccinated only 7.6% of its 3.9 crore 45+ citizens. The low vaccination rate can be attributed to the vaccine shortage with nearly 2.5 crore people in the age group yet to receive a shot. A report quoted experts as saying that vaccine shortages started to show by mid-April and then the government increased the gap between Covishield shots to 12-16 weeks, slowing the drive.

As a result of the crisis, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation discontinued vaccination for the age group of 18 to 44 years. However, it has encouraged partnership between private hospitals and societies, and has picked 75 private hospitals in the city to conduct the drive.

“BMC wanted to reach out to people who could not come to vaccine centres due to age or disability, and societies were also requesting vaccination drive in their premises. Amid such requests, the Centre took a decision to allow societies and private hospitals to conduct vaccination drive, keeping ICMR guidelines in mind,” said Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale.

He further said that the vaccine manufacturers have to sell 50% doses in open market, and hence, hospitals and other private players can procure it. “BMC has identified 75 hospitals that can initiate such drives and accelerate vaccination drive by jabbing more of the city’s population,” the MP added.

Dr Surana, who is touch with The Serum Institute of India for steady supply of Covishield, believes the shortage issue will ease out by the second week of June.

State tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray had also announced on Friday a similar special drive for students travelling abroad for studies.

“We have many student who plan to go abroad and their parents are worried. They could not send them to public hospitals for vaccination, so we decided to have this drive in our society. We have 216 flats and have invited nearby societies too as we have the infrastructure and manpower. This is a paid drive. However, we are paying for our maids, drivers and safai karamcharis (our blue-collared staff),” said Dr Lalit Kumar Shyam, a committee member of the Chembur’s Basant Park Cooperative Housing Society.

As people queued up outside the vaccine centre inside the society premises, Shyam further said that by covering more and more people, they can vaccinate whole of Chembur. “I'm a small man can't reach out to the country, but through this initiative we will try to reach to as many as possible. We asked for 1,000 doses, the hospital approved it and the staff is also very cordial, they have gone out of their way to help us in the drive,” he added.

Beneficiaries waiting in the observation area set up by society volunteers said called the initiative “great”, and said such efforts should be considered by other societies also for the benefit of the people and to avoid crowding.

“Actually I'm planning to go to Italy for further studies so without that, I will have to get myself quarantined for 15 days. I'm happy to get this one. This society has done a terrific job by organising a drive inside the society. This way we don't have to go and wait in long queues. If all societies have such drives, then it will be more convenient for the common man to get vaccinated,” a recipient said.

According to Dr Surana, the success of such drives cannot be achieved without proper cooperation from the society. In case of Basant Park society, the society set up everything, from observation room to registration desk to refreshments for beneficiaries and hospital staff, he added.

“Following the civic guidelines, we are vaccinating people in close to seven societies and corporates. At Basant Park, we are vaccinating close to 1,000 people on Saturday. We have close to 25 health workers, including doctors, nurses and ambulance staff, in coordination with the society. We have given token, they've been given time slots, there is adequate social distancing and this is how we are going about. Today, I plan to vaccinate close to 5,000 people in Chembur and aim is to vaccinate 15,000 to 20,000 people in Chembur over this weekend,” Surana said before his team began vaccinating people on Saturday.

During the recent surge of Covid-19 cases in the in the financial capital, Chembur became one of the hotspots with high number of positive cases being reported from high rises in the area. And for those associated to this mega drive, they wish to change that image by vaccinating much of its population through this door-to-door vaccination initiative.

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