The Delhi government Monday informed the Delhi High Court that it has directed all government centres, private hospitals and nursing homes here that Covaxin will only be administered to those in the age group of 18-44 years who received it as first dose of anti-COVID vaccine. The court was hearing three pleas filed by persons who were finding it difficult to get the second dose of Covaxin after getting the first jab.
The Delhi government and the Centre also told the court that an additional of 40,000 vials of Covaxin have been provided to national capital on June 6 to tide over the current situation.
Justice Rekha Palli expressed happiness over the development and the proactive steps taken by both the Central and Delhi government to address the issue of shortage of Covaxin, especially for those who have taken the first dose and finding it difficult to get the second dose before the six weeks window expires.
The court was informed that the Delhi Chief Secretary has issued an order on June 6 that the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has directed that all private hospitals and nursing homes functioning as COVID Vaccination Centres for Covaxin shall ensure that it shall be used for vaccination to only those people (of age group 18-44 years) who are eligible for receiving it as second dose of vaccination during the month of June, 2021 or till further orders.
The Health Department of Delhi government, on June 3, has already issued similar directions in this regard to all government COVID Vaccination Centres.
One of the petitions has been filed by petitioner and advocate Kushal Kumar, seeking direction to the authorities to urgently provide second dose of Covaxin vaccine to them as their allotted time period for the second dose is about to end.
Kumar and co-petitioners – Mansi Sharma and advocate Shashwat Tripathi, said the allotted time period for the second dose of vaccine is between May 31 too June 14.
Another petition has been moved by lawyer Ashish Virmani, who received the first dose of Covaxin on May 3 and since May 29 has been unable to book a slot for receiving the second jab which has to be taken within six weeks of the first.
Subsequently, he had to travel to Meerut in Uttar Pradesh to receive the second dose of the vaccine, advocate Pallav Mongia, representing Virmani, had told the court.
During the hearing, the petitioners raised a grievance that as no doses of Covaxin were available between May 25 to June, there are a number of persons who are going to complete six weeks period on June 14 and therefore, if they do not get the slot in that time period, the whole exercise would be rendered futile.
The government counsel sought time to take instructions on this aspect and the court listed the matter for further hearing on June 11.
The court asked advocate Anuj Aggarwal, representing the Delhi government, and advocate Anurag Ahluwalia, appearing for the Centre, to examine the issue whether the slots being opened for second dose vaccination can be increased.
The counsel are also asked to examine the issue of utilising the data bank and messaging the persons whose second dose if due before June 14.
The Centre, in its affidavit filed through advocate Anurag Ahluwalia, said the CoWin system provides the list of beneficiaries due for the second dose on a given day, containing the name and contact details of the persons to enable the state and district officials to actively track the beneficiaries due for the second dose.
It said the CoWin system also send automatic SMSs to the beneficiaries, every third day, starting from 3 days before the second dose due date, till such time as the beneficiary does not get vaccinated with the second dose or books an appointment for it.
On June 4, the Delhi government had told the high court that it made preparations for vaccinating people with Covaxin based on the assurance of Bharat Biotech, the manufacturer of vaccine, that the national capital will receive 5 lakh doses in May and four times that in June.
However, the Delhi government received only 1.5 doses of the vaccine in May and due to the Centre's instructions not to set aside any stock for the second jab, all of it was used to provide the first dose to 1.5 lakh people in the 18-44 age group.
On June 2, the court had said if the Delhi government could not ensure that people get both the doses of Covaxin within the stipulated time, it should not have started so many vaccination centres with "much pomp and splendour".