Patients from districts are flocking to Covid vaccination centres in Calcutta as the availability of doses there is much less than in the city.
The result is that in some of the facilities in Calcutta the number of people queuing for the shot is three to four times the number of doses available. “This has been the scene for at least two months and there is no end in sight,” said an official involved in Covid vaccination in the city.
Many people from districts are taking the jab at private hospitals in Calcutta, shelling out a hefty sum, as they are unable to stand in a queue for hours outside government vaccination centres near home.
Similar queues are for-ming outside government centres in Calcutta, too. So such people from districts are opting for private facilities.
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has reported to the state health department that between 25 and 30 per cent of recipients at its vaccination centres were from other districts.
Data available on the CoWIN portal reveals the disparity. The number of Covid vaccination centres in Calcutta on Wednesday was 365, compared with 68 in Howrah, 65 in Hooghly, 266 in South 24-Parganas and 254 in North 24-Parganas.
Availability of doses in Calcutta, too, is much higher than in neighbouring districts.
The difference becomes starker when one considers the fact that Calcutta was the least populated of these five districts according to the 2011 Census.
Murshidabad, another district that was more populated than Calcutta according to the same Census, had only 76 CVCs on Wednesday.
Officials in the state health department said no other civic body in Bengal could match the CMC’s drive in getting people vaccinated against Covid.
The CMC alone runs 192 CVCs. “No other municipality or municipal corporation
in the state has shown such keenness in setting up vaccination centres like the CMC,” a health department official said.
The presence of private hospitals has helped Calcutta. There are 129 private CVCs in Calcutta, compared with only 64 in North 24-Parganas, which has the second highest number of private CVCs in the state.
“Covid-19 broke out first in cities and then spread to rural areas. So we had prioritised cities. Calcutta, the epicenter of the spread, gets the majority of the doses. If doses were abundant, we would not have needed to prioritise one place over another,” said Asim Das Malakar, the state family welfare officer.