The Delhi government on Monday informed the Delhi High Court that it has directed all government centres, private hospitals and nursing homes here that Covaxin will only be administered to those in the age group of 18-44 years, who received it as the first dose of anti-Covid vaccine.
The court was hearing three pleas filed by persons who were finding it difficult to get the second dose of Covaxin after getting the first jab.
The Delhi government and the Centre also told the court that an additional 40,000 vials of Covaxin were provided to the national Capital on June 6 to tide over the current situation.
Justice Rekha Palli expressed happiness over the development and the proactive steps taken by both the Central and Delhi governments to address the issue of shortage of Covaxin, especially for those who have taken the first dose and were finding it difficult to get the second dose before the six-week window expires.
The court was informed that the Delhi Chief Secretary had issued an order on June 6 that the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had directed that all private hospitals and nursing homes functioning as COVID Vaccination Centres for Covaxin should ensure that it would only be used for vaccination of people (in the age group 18-44 years) who are eligible to receive it as the second dose of vaccination during June 2021 or till further orders.
The Delhi government’s Health Department on June 3 had issued similar directions in this regard to all government Covid Vaccination Centres.
One of the petitions has been filed by petitioner and advocate Kushal Kumar, seeking direction to the authorities to urgently provide the second dose of Covaxin vaccine to them as the allotted time period for the second dose was about to end.
Kumar and co-petitioners – Mansi Sharma and advocate Shashwat Tripathi – said the allotted time period for the second dose of vaccine was between May 31 to June 14.
Another petition has been moved by lawyer Ashish Virmani, who received the first dose of Covaxin on May 3 and since May 29 has been unable to book a slot for the second jab, which has to be taken within six weeks of the first.
Subsequently, he had to travel to Meerut in Uttar Pradesh to receive the second dose of the vaccine, advocate Pallav Mongia, representing Virmani, told the court.
During the hearing, the petitioners raised the grievance that as no doses of Covaxin were available between May 25 to June, if people who were going to complete the six-week period on June 14 do not get the slot in that time period, the whole exercise would be rendered futile.
The government counsel sought time to take instructions on this aspect and the court listed the matter for further hearing on June 11.
The court asked advocate Anuj Aggarwal, representing the Delhi government, and advocate Anurag Ahluwalia, appearing for the Centre, to examine whether the slots being opened for the second dose can be increased.
The counsel also raised the issue of utilising the data bank and messaging people whether their second dose was due before June 14.
The Centre, in its affidavit filed through advocate Anurag Ahluwalia, said the CoWin system provides the list of beneficiaries due for the second dose on a given day, containing the name and contact details of the persons, to enable the state and district officials to actively track the beneficiaries due for the second dose.
It said the CoWin system also sends automatic SMSs to the beneficiaries, every third day, starting from 3 days before the second dose due date, till such time as the beneficiary does not get vaccinated with the second dose or books an appointment for it.
On June 4, the Delhi government had told the high court that it had made preparations for vaccinating people with Covaxin based on the assurance of Bharat Biotech, the manufacturer, that the national capital will receive 5 lakh doses in May and four times that in June.
However, the Delhi government received only 1.5 doses of the vaccine in May and due to the Centre’s instructions not to set aside any stock for the second jab, all of it was used to provide the first dose to 1.5 lakh people in the 18-44 age group.
On June 2, the court had said if the Delhi government could not ensure that people got both the doses of Covaxin within the stipulated time, it should not have started so many vaccination centres with “much pomp and splendour”.