On Sunday when ‘Tika Utsav’, a special inoculation drive against coronavirus was launched across the country, at least 900 session sites in Odisha remained shut owing to shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, triggering a blame game between the ruling BJD and the BJP.
Director of Family Welfare Bijay Panigrahi said, while vaccination is underway in only 579 out of over 1,400 centres in the state, the inoculation programme may have to be stopped in many places on Monday, if fresh vaccine stock does not arrive. While state Labour Minister Sushant Singh accused the Centre of not performing ‘Rajdharma’ and discriminating against Odisha in the distribution of the vaccines, BJP MLA Mukesh Mahaling said, Eastern India, including the coastal state, is on the priority list of the central government.
“Till Saturday, the state had 2,33,658 doses of Covishield and 77,960 doses of Covaxin vaccines.
“We will know the actual position only after completion of vaccination work in the evening. I think the entire stock will be exhausted by today,” Panigrahi said. The vaccines are being sent to districts that have reported more COVID-19 positive cases, the senior official said.
On the launch of the four-day ‘Tika Utsav’ from April 11 to April 14, Panigrahi said, the purpose of the vaccination festival is to ensure zero wastage of vaccines and motivate people to get inoculated.
The state had received only 2.5 lakh doses of vaccine against its demand of 25 lakh doses for the ‘Tika Utsav’.
So far, the state has received 42,71,870 doses of the Covishield vaccine, of which 40,38,212 doses have been administered to eligible beneficiaries till Saturday, officials said.
Similarly, 2,58,820 doses of Covaxin have been used against the supply of 3,36,780, they said.
Speaking to reporters, the state’s labour minister said, “Statistics reveal that BJP-ruled states are being given preference in the distribution of vaccines. Where is Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Bikas slogan now? It is duty of the king to treat everyone in equal terms. This is Rajdharma.”
With the second wave of COVID-19 sweeping across the country, there should be no discrimination against Odisha, Singh said. Describing Singh’s comment as “irresponsible”, BJP MLA Mukesh Mahaling said, “He is a member of the Council of Ministers and his irresponsible statement is not acceptable.
“There has been no discrimination against states on political lines. Odisha will certainly get the required number of vaccines.”
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, during a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 8, had sought at least 10 days stock of vaccines for the smooth conduct of the vaccination drive. The chief minister had said that Odisha is at present vaccinating 2.5 lakh persons per day and has the capabitity to increase it further.
Odishas Health and Family Welfare Minister N K Das, and Additional Chief Secretary H&FW P K Mohapatra, in separate letters to the Centre, had demanded adequate supply of vaccines.