On May 17, Triborna Deb, a resident of Silchar, had gone all the way to Sonai to get her parents - Tulsi Deb, Sabori Deb and her aunt Kabita Deb vaccinated. All three of them are senior citizens.
On May 16, she was trying to book vaccination slots for them but couldn’t find any in the centres within Silchar. The nearest centre where slots were available was in Sonai at the Block Primary Health Centre. So, she booked the slots at Sonai with the preferred timing between 9-11 am. She reached the centre at 10:30 am and produced her booking details and asked for coupons for the vaccination. However, she was informed that vaccines weren’t available as the bookings were full.
She responded that she too had a booking made via the CoWin portal. Further, she had brought her aged parents and aunt all the way to Sonai this early in the morning only for them to get vaccinated.
She alleges that the centre wasn't particularly following the online booking protocol while giving out vaccines and was listing people offline as well. She claims the centre told her that their quota of 190 vaccinations for the day was full. She inquired why she was being turned away despite having a proper online booking and demanded an explanation. After that, she alleges that she was verbally misbehaved with by a doctor there. “Do what you want, you won’t get the vaccines!”, an official, allegedly Dr Surendra Singha said. She adds that she was asked to wait with her family till 1 pm, after which if doses were left because of people not turning up, they would be given the vaccines.
Triborna asks why she and her family should have to face such harassment and inconvenience despite having an authentic online booking made via a government app. Even regarding waiting till 1 pm, she questions why her aged family should have to wait with no certainty despite having proper bookings.
News Core reached out to the Joint Director of Health Services who said he wasn’t looking after the vaccination process and directed us to the District Immunization Officer. At the time of the report being compiled, she was in a meeting and so her statement could not be added. The story will be updated as more facts emerge.
News Core then reached out to the BPHC Incharge Dr Surendra Singha as well. He informed the News Core that the centre had 190 doses for the day. Since local demand for vaccines has been high, 190 coupons were sequentially issued to locals offline and also those who came with online bookings. Dr Singha also claims that this is being done at the official instructions of the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar. By the time Triborna Deb had reached, the slots were full. There were some others like Triborna’s family as well. Later, at around 12:45pm, the Incharge claims that vaccines were given out to all such complainants with the online booking issue when it was observed that some people hadn’t shown up and so vaccines were left.
Triborna says they had waited almost till 1 pm. Her parents and aunt weren’t feeling so well. They realised it would take a long time. So, they left and until the time they were there, they alleged that they didn’t get the vaccines.
India has been struggling to rapidly vaccinate its population owing to the shortage of vaccine doses. Lately, steps have been taken by the centre to ramp up vaccine production in the country to meet the demand. However, people willing and trying to be vaccinated are still struggling to find doses. The CoWin portal has also added to a lot of confusion. It is worth noting that a large part of the Indian population isn’t tech savvy or doesn’t have proper access to the internet. As such, the online booking process stands as a hurdle for many underprivileged Indians.