75% of citizens are in favour of the Government opening vaccination for all above 18 by permitting private labs and hospitals to vaccinate after-hours via appointment and walk-in
- ● If vaccine doses are available in plenty and healthcare service providers willing, people feel such an approach will help maximise vaccination in India
- ● 30% citizens say they observed or experienced some irregularities on the ground in regard to adherence to norms to qualify for vaccination
- ● False certification to people above 45 as co-morbid or qualifying individuals as healthcare or frontline workers is being reported as a malpractice
March 18, 2021, New Delhi: The Government of India in two months of its ambitious ‘vaccination’ drive to fight the COVID-19 pandemic has inoculated close to 3.5 crore citizens. However, since the second phase of the vaccination drive began for citizens above 60 or those above 45 with co-morbidities, there has been an increase in citizen feedback on LocalCircles, pointing out how eligibility norms to qualify for vaccination are being allegedly violated. In the earlier phase of vaccination for healthcare workers, a few people had reported that some family members of healthcare professionals who weren’t necessarily healthcare workers were inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine dose.
It is to be noted that a vial of COVID-19 vaccine once opened for inoculation needs to be fully used within 4 hours, else the remaining doses go waste. For Covishield, each 5 ml vial of the vaccine has 10 doses in total and for Covaxin, it is 10ml and 20 doses per vial. Once opened, all the doses have to be consumed within 4 hours. Citizens report that in cases where all doses aren’t consumed, vaccine administrators are calling up their friends or families and are inoculating them with the remaining doses. Per reports, in such cases, they are being falsely qualified as health or a frontline worker just to fit the criteria. Some people have also reported that people who do not have a co-morbidity are going to doctors and are issuing a fake co-morbidity certificate to fit the criteria for inoculation.
When such issues were identified, citizens also discussed the need for finding solutions to bridge such gaps, aimed at maximising vaccination in India. LocalCircles has conducted a survey around issues of irregularities in the vaccine administration process as well as on the solution proposed by people The survey received approximately 19,000 responses from citizens located in 281 districts of India. 68% of the respondents were men while 32% were women.
30% of citizens say some healthcare professionals are influencing or falsely-certifying to qualify people as co-morbid or health or frontline workers
The question in the survey that sought to understand from citizens if they observed or experienced any irregularities in regards to COVID-19 vaccine administration so far, 70% of citizens said they did not experience or observed any irregularities, or don’t have any experience with the vaccine. There were, however, 15% of citizens saying they observed “(1) influencing or certification by healthcare professionals to qualify someone as co-morbid or as a health or frontline worker”, 3% said “(2) overcharging to qualify someone as co-morbid or as a health or frontline worker”, and 5% said “(3) administration of leftover doses to those using influence or providing monetary gratification”. Breaking down the poll, 3% observed both “1 & 2” irregularities from the aforementioned options. 2% said “1 & 3”, and another 2% observed all three irregularities from the options. The findings of the survey indicated that 30% of citizens observed some healthcare professionals influencing or falsely-certifying to qualify people as co-morbid or health or frontline workers for vaccination. The question in the poll received 10,277 responses.
70% citizens did not experience or observe any irregularities with the vaccine administration process
Of the citizens who experienced or observed irregularities with the COVID-19 vaccine administration process, 73% said some healthcare professionals are influencing or falsely certifying to qualify people as co-morbid, health or frontline workers
Alternatively, if we were to separately look into the percentage of citizens who observed or experienced irregularities with the vaccine administration process for the magnitude of different types of irregularities, 50% said “(1) influencing or certification by healthcare professionals to qualify someone as co-morbid or as a health or frontline worker”, 10% said “(2) overcharging to qualify someone as co-morbid or as a health or frontline worker”, and 17% said “(3) administration of leftover doses to those using influence or providing monetary gratification”. Breaking down the poll, 10% observed both “1 & 2” irregularities from the aforementioned options. 6% said “1 & 3”, and 7% observed all three irregularities from the options. The findings indicated that citizens who experienced or observed irregularities with the COVID-19 vaccine administration process, 73% said some healthcare professionals are influencing or falsely certifying to qualify people as co-morbid, health or frontline workers.
75% citizens in favour of Government opening vaccination for all above 18 by permitting private labs & hospitals to vaccinate post 6 pm for slightly extra charges
It is to be noted that wastage of the COVID-19 vaccine has shot-up since its inoculation started on January 16th 2021. In Jaipur, for instance, 1.63 lakh covid vaccine doses have gone wastage till March 8. Similarly, in Maharashtra, vaccine wastage is at 3.2% as of March 14. According to a few citizens, the increase in wastage of COVID-19 vaccines is a problem that must be tackled with optimization and scheduling algorithms. Some citizens have suggested a different approach. Per their solution, since wastage is to be minimised and there are plenty of vaccine doses available and more getting ready each day just with Serum Insititute’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, the Government should open vaccination on a walk-in and appointment basis at private hospitals and labs (those willing) after 6 pm for slightly extra charges. According to people, this move will lead to faster vaccination of the population and put an end to the malpractices reported. The slightly higher charges will cover healthcare staff compensation for working in after hours. Potentially, even a percentage of those doses going waste could be reduced according to people. To understand if the collective identifies with such a solution, the following question in the poll sought to understand citizens’ perception if the Government should open vaccination (appointment and walk-in) for all above 18 by permitting private labs and hospitals to vaccinate post 6 pm (after 6 hours) and charge slightly extra. The majority of 75% said “Yes”. There were only 19% of citizens who said “No”, while 6% said “can’t say”. The question in the poll received 8,679 responses.
75% citizens in favour of Government opening vaccination for all above 18 by permitting private labs and hospitals to vaccinate post 6 pm for slight extra charges
It is worth a mention here that in the LocalCircles poll, the majority of citizens were ok with a price below INR 600 for two vaccine doses of COVID-19. Hence a price like INR 600 could be a fair price for after-hours vaccination at a private facility, while they would continue charging INR 500 during regular working hours.
In summary, though only 30% of citizens have flagged irregularities by healthcare professionals influencing or falsely-certifying to qualify people as co-morbid or health or frontline workers, it is critical for the Government, along with the hospital administrators to plug the gaps outlined in the report so that COVID-19 doses are inoculated to the right people, and concomitantly reduce vaccine wastage. As suggested by experts vis-à-vis citizens on the LocalCircles platform, the Government should consider opening vaccination (appointment and walk-in) for all above 18 in after-hours via private hospitals and labs for slightly higher charges. This suggestion has the support of the collective if one were to go by the findings of the poll in which 75% of citizens have supported such an initiative as it would lead to a higher percentage of the Indian population getting vaccinated faster. More vaccinations will help India in reaching herd immunity faster as well as safety for all those children who cannot be vaccinated because of the minimum age criteria.
LocalCircles will escalate the findings of this study for consideration to the Government of India, stakeholders for broader public awareness and discussion.
Approximately 19,000 responses were received from citizens residing in 281 districts of India. 68% respondents were men while 32% respondents were women. 46% respondents were from tier 1, 29% from tier 2 and 25% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. They survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.
LocalCircles, India’s leading Community Social Media platform enables citizens and small businesses to escalate issues for policy and enforcement interventions and enables Government to make policies that are citizen and small business centric. LocalCircles is also India’s # 1 pollster on issues of governance, public and consumer interest. More about LocalCircles can be found on https://www.localcircles.com
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