Even through citizens, after a prolonged episode of vaccine hesitancy are finally warming up to the concept, violations in vaccination administration at COVID inoculation Centres, threaten to jeopardise all efforts of the government to reach its target to vaccinate the entire population by the year end.
In a recent instance, a case of alleged violation of vaccination administration protocols was observed at a private vaccination centre in Gurugram district of Haryana.
Ramesh Kumar (name changed), a resident of Gurgaon, and his wife Sunita Kumar, had signed up on the Aarogya Setu app for vaccination at Muskaan Dentals, a private clinic in Gurugram. However, when the couple reached the clinic for vaccination last week, Ramesh observed that the nurse vaccinated them and many others without following the proper vaccine administration process.
Speaking to The Federal Ramesh said, “The nurse had kept an ice-box on the table. When Sunita’s turn came, the nurse took the syringe which was already filled with some liquid out of the box and administered the dose to my wife. I was confused as I didn’t see any vial of Covishield vaccine on the table. After Sunita, it was my turn, and the nurse did the same with me.”
Ramesh said that he was unable to react at the moment as everything happened very quickly, and no one else before him had objected to the process.
Ramesh said, after he took the shot, he asked the nurse to show him the vials of the vaccine as she had not filled the syringe with Covishield in front of him. “So, the nurse showed me the ice-box which had prefilled syringes, and inside it I also saw a few vials which seemed like Covishield to me,” he said.
“The nurse claimed that the syringes were filled with Covishield and were kept in the box five hours ago,” Ramesh added.
When Ramesh objected to the process and asked the nurse the reason behind filling the syringes in advance, she said she did it to save time as hundreds of individuals were waiting in line to get jabbed and that following the due process (filling the syringe with the vaccine before the beneficiary and administering the dose) consumes a lot of time.
Although other staff at the private clinic claimed the liquid in the syringe was Covishield, prefilling of syringes with COVID-19 vaccine is strictly prohibited under the COVID-19 Vaccines Operational Guidelines (Page 81, under ‘ensuring safe injection practices’), issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Unsatisfied by the response, Ramesh called 1075, the national COVID helpline number, to lodge a complaint. Ramesh said, he was, however, instructed to contact the state helpline number. “I did so. I was then asked to write a letter addressed to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Gurugram narrating my experience,” he said.
The Federal has a copy of the letter which was sent to the district CMO.
“…the syringe was prefilled, as informed by the nurse, with Covishield. How to know whether it was filled with Covishield or something else? As it was not filled before the beneficiary. Apart from that, how to know when it was filled, since it’s related to the efficacy of the vaccine,” Ramesh wrote in the letter.
Doctors say a vial of the vaccine, once cracked, should be used within the next four hours, failing which its efficacy may wear out.
“The virus is a live being that’s injected into the body, after which antibodies are formed. Those antibodies protect the individual against COVID. While administering the dose, it is important to utilise the vaccine within four hours once its vial is opened. Because if it doesn’t happen, then the efficacy of the vaccine will reduce,” Dr Shalini Sinha, a pathologist associated with Dr Lal PathLabs, told The Federal.
“After that, even if the vaccine is administered, it will not be of any use,” she added.
As of today, 5,924 individuals have been vaccinated at Muskaan Dentals, Sector – 56, Gurugram according to the data available on the CoWin website.
When The Federal reached out to a senior doctor at the clinic to inquire about the alleged violation of the vaccine administration process, the doctor burst into a fit of rage.
“How did you directly speak to me? Are you aware who you’re talking to? If you’ve a complaint, write it down. You can’t call me directly,” the doctor yelled at this reporter.
An official of the Haryana health department, however, admitted that filling of syringes in advance was against the rules and the violation at Muskaan Dentals is being looked into. “The complaint has been registered by the Chief Medical Officer, Gurugram. I will inform you when an action is be taken by him as prefilling of syringes is against the rules,” the official said.
Ramesh has demanded a probe to be initiated against the clinic for flouting vaccine administration rules.
“What happened with me can’t be changed. But I don’t want someone else to get jabbed in a similar way. I believe the due process should be followed, and if there is any violation then action should be taken.”
A similar violation was recently reported in Bihar when a nurse was captured on camera injecting an empty syringe into a man during a COVID-19 vaccination drive.
Several other cases of vaccination frauds where patients were injected medicines instead of the COVID-19 has left many wary of the entire vaccination process. The most shocking of them was the fake vaccination drive at Kolkata where individuals were administered shots of anti-biotic Amikacin at three phony vaccination camps arranged by one Debanjan Deb. While Deb was later arrested when the fake drive was busted, doctors say Amikacin, when administered without checking for allergies, could prove fatal.
The Madhya Pradesh government, which on June 21 claimed to have administered a whopping 1.7 million doses, was left in a quandary when several people reported getting vaccination certificates even though they had not received their jabs.
In view of such scams, Haryana police recently cautioned citizens against responding to fake phone calls, messages and emails asking them to register for vaccination as fraudsters may steal their Aadhar identity and money from linked bank accounts.