Vaccine fiasco leaves students fuming in Mumbai

Only 50 doses available at special drive for students going abroad

Hundreds of students, who thronged the HBT Medical College and Dr. RN Cooper Municipal General Hospital at Juhu on Monday after Cabinet minister Aaditya Thackeray tweeted that free walk-in vaccinations would be available for students going abroad, returned disappointed as only 50 doses were available.

On May 28, Mr Thackeray had tweeted, “For students who have received confirmation of admission in universities abroad & require vaccines for the same, the BMC has arranged free walk-in vaccination this coming Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (31st May, 1st, 2nd June) at 3 centres — Rajawadi, Cooper & Kasturba. The students need to carry I-20 or DS-160 form/ verified confirmation letter to concerned foreign universities, along with personal id documents. This admission and vaccine affecting careers, we are duty bound to vaccinate them in the required time. I will also be speaking to other municipal corporations across Maharashtra to implement the same for students in and around those cities with confirmation letters for universities abroad, to implement the same. The numbers are small, but their career opportunities can’t be missed.”

However, several students waited for long hours only to be turned away by the hospitals.

Aditi Srivastava, 21, who is scheduled to go to London, recounted her experience.

Coronavirus updates | May 31, 2021

“The vaccination was supposed to take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. I reached there around 8 a.m. only to find out that students were waiting there from 5 a.m. There were at least 400 students standing outside the hospital without any line and were not following any COVID 19 protocol of social distancing. There was a counter where a lady was verifying documents as tweeted by Mr. Thackeray and giving a token number. However, within half an hour, it was announced that there were only 50 doses and all were over.”

Neeraj Sharma, 22, who is going to U.S., said, “I was told the vaccination drive would start at 10 a.m. at Cooper Hospital so I reached there around 8.30 a.m. But after waiting in a long queue outside the hospital for half an hour a lady announced that all doses for the day are over.”

Himon Roy Chaudhry, 23, going to Germany, had been waiting in the line since 7 a.m. but was told to come back the next day at 10 a.m. He said, “There was a lot of confusion and hundreds of students were waiting since 3 a.m., I am told. After waiting for three hours, I was turned away by saying there were only 50 doses and they had been administered.”

Dean of Cooper Hospital, Dr. Pinakin Gujjur, said without any prior appointment and registration there was chaos. He said, “We received 50 vials for today and everyone expects to be vaccinated the same day. We are bound to face a problem. If there are no appointments and only walk-ins, this was going to happen. Around 300 vials are expected to reach the hospital before the day ends.”

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