Vaccinated or not? Erroneous records leave people confused in Bengaluru

Gangadhar N. got his parents vaccinated with the first dose at a private hospital in central Bengaluru in the early days of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Though they didn’t receive any updates on their phones, they were given printouts with the vaccination details. When it was time for the second dose, confusion reigned.

“With cases increasing, we found a primary health centre very close to our house and decided to go there instead of travelling all the way to the Central Business District. When the staff checked the database, there was no record of the first dose. We thankfully had the printout, which we reproduced, and the second dose was administered. But now when we are trying to get the final vaccination certificate, it is still showing as ‘first dose’,” he said, wondering how he would get the certificates. “We don’t know what we will need them for in the future, but it is definitely necessary to have it.”

This is not a one-off case. Similar stories are being heard from people who are partially or fully vaccinated. And with the mega drive for vaccination of those aged 18-44 set to begin in the near future, there is anxiety about whether these glitches will be addressed.

For instance, a 64-year-old woman got her first dose as a walk-in beneficiary at a government hospital along with three other family members, all senior citizens. They did not get any physical acknowledgement or SMS. Two from the family eventually received messages. But the woman, and the remaining member of the family, never did. When the woman went for her second dose, again as a walk-in beneficiary, she was just asked to verbally tell which dose and vaccine. Again, there was no acknowledgement. When she finally logged into the CoWIN portal, she managed to get her final vaccination certificate, but the information was not updated on her daughter’s number through which she had originally registered before deciding to opt for a walk-in appointment.

When asked about the anomalies in data, the medical superintendent of a government hospital said the problem was rarely with the hospital’s records. “Perhaps, because of the large numbers, there are some gaps in data entry. But the hospital records will have details,” he said.

‘Not many instances’

R. Ravindra, former president, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes’ Association (PHANA), said he had not heard of too many such complaints. “There have been a couple of instances when people have taken the first dose in one hospital and the second one in another. Or sometimes they forget which phone number they used to register. But I doubt this problem is widespread,” he said.

For private hospitals, the billing aspect tied with the vaccination process appears to have worked to an extent. Vaccination at government centres is free. “Since we are charging, billing is happening. For old patients, there is no problem. New patients have to be registered on our system. Then they move to billing in another counter. Aadhaar is not important for billing, but for verification it is. The details are entered into the COVID-19 portal. Once that is done, the vaccine is administered and they are made to sit for half an hour. Then we print a certificate and give it to them,” said Dr. Ravindra.

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