Ludhiana (Punjab) [India], May 1 (ANI): Even as the third phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive got underway on Saturday, many people in Punjab's Ludhiana district, aged above 45, were seen struggling to get their second doses because of the unavailability of the vaccine.
The inoculation drive for those between 18 and 45 years of age started in many parts of the country today.
However, many people in Ludhiana's Dayanand Medical College, who came to get administered their second dose of the vaccine, could not get themselves vaccinated as there was no vaccine stock available.
"I have come here to take the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine but there is a board outside the gate of the hospital which read 'vaccine out of stock.' I have been coming daily for the past one week for the same purpose but there's no vaccine available," a distressed Ashok Kumar told ANI.
"The hospital authority has asked me for my phone number and said that they will inform me once they get the stock," said another beneficiary.
When asked about the reason why the inoculation program of the people between 18 and 45 years of age has delayed, a vaccination officer Punit Juneja said that they are following the state government's guidelines.
"We don't have enough stock of COVID-19 vaccines. At present we have only one day stock left if the next stock will come by the evening we will continue the vaccination program tomorrow for the people above 45 years," Juneja said.
He added: "As per the state government guidelines, we are not rolling out the vaccination drive for people between 18 to 44. We will roll out the program after we get enough stock of the vaccines and the government's direction."
Juneja also informed that the central government guidelines say that after April 30, all the private vaccination centres have to procure their own vaccine and start the process. Earlier they used to purchase the vaccine at Rs 150 from the central government, now that system has ended. This is one of the reasons people are facing difficulties in administering the dose.
Health Minister of Punjab, Balbir Singh Sidhu had earlier also complained of shortage of vaccine for the 45-plus category and had urged the Centre to give 15 lakh doses a week for the state.
The Centre on April 19 had announced a ''liberalised'' policy, making all above 18 years of age eligible to get vaccinated from May 1. It has also allowed state governments and private hospitals to purchase vaccines from manufacturers. Per the revised rules, the centre will receive 50 per cent of the vaccines supplied; states and private hospitals will get the remaining doses.
The country had started the COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 with two vaccines -- Covishield (Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited).
The second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to inoculate people above 60 years and those over 45 with comorbidities against the coronavirus began on March 1.
The third phase began on April 1 for all above 45 years of age. (ANI)