After vociferous criticism over mandatory appointment via the CoWIN app for COVID vaccinations for those in the 18-to-44 age group, the Centre has now eased the procedure. On Monday afternoon, it said everybody above 18 can now make walk-in registrations, though only at government-run Covid vaccination centres for now.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) defended the mandatory appointment stance followed till now, saying it prevented overcrowding at the vaccination centres. However, this was seen to lead to substantial vaccine wastage. The latest easing of appointment norms is meant to address this issue, particularly for those ‘without access to internet or smartphones’.
?On-site Registration/Facilitated Cohort Registration in addition to Online Appointment for 18-44 years age group now Enabled on #CoWIN
?Feature enabled only for Government #COVID Vaccination Centers (CVCs), presentlyhttps://t.co/2f9l06v79m
— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) May 24, 2021
“In case of sessions exclusively organised with online slots, towards the end of the day, some doses may still be left unutilised in case the online appointee beneficiaries do not turn up on day of vaccination due to any reason,” said the MoHFW in a statement. “In such cases, on-site registration of a few beneficiaries may be necessary to minimise the vaccine wastage.”
State governments’ decision
Yet, it is up to the state and UT governments to take the final decision, said the statement. “State/UT must decide on opening of on-site registrations/facilitated cohorts’ registration and appointments for 18-44 years age group based on the local context just as an additional measure to minimise vaccine wastage,” it said.
The MoHFW clarified that private healthcare institutions offering vaccines will need to follow the mandatory CoWIN appointment procedure.
On-site registration/facilitated cohort registration in addition to online appointment for 18-44 years age group now enabled on CoWIN
The facility is being enabled only for Government COVID Vaccination Centers at present#LargestVaccineDrive
— PIB India (@PIB_India) May 24, 2021
For those aged 45 or more, COVID vaccination has been available on a walk-in basis all along, both at government and private centres.
‘Where are the vaccines?’
The Opposition, which has been a vocal critic of the Centre’s vaccination policy, was quick to find holes in the latest announcement, too.
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Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh pointed out that there is still a vaccine shortage that is left unaddressed.
“A vaccination policy that excludes more than it includes is bound to fail. That’s why we said making CoWin registration mandatory for ages 18-44 is a huge mistake. While the Modi Govt seems to have made amends, the issue now is, WHERE ARE THE VACCINES?,” he tweeted.
A vaccination policy that excludes more than it includes is bound to fail. That’s why we said making CoWin registration mandatory for ages 18-44 is a huge mistake. While the Modi Govt seems to have made amends, the issue now is, WHERE ARE THE VACCINES?https://t.co/1NrGcNnNof
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) May 24, 2021