Govt vows action against people getting out-of-turn vaccination

Published April 6, 2021
A number of people including mediapersons, who were not entitled, have got jabs of Covid-19. — Reuters/File
A number of people including mediapersons, who were not entitled, have got jabs of Covid-19. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: While a large number of people aged less than 50 years of age have managed to get themselves vaccinated against Covid-19, the government has failed to take action against them.

Experts believe that out of turn use of the vaccine and medicine had been going on for long.

Now such people have exposed themselves by making selfies and videos of every activity and uploading them on social media.

However, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Sajid Shah said the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was looking into it and would take strict action if anyone was found involved. However, he said not a single complaint had been lodged in this regard in the capital.

A number of people including mediapersons, who were not entitled, have got jabs of Covid-19. The first controversy emerged when the daughter of a prominent personality allegedly vaccinated a person in Sindh, prompting the provincial government to launch an inquiry.

Citizens below 50 years found uploading selfies of getting vaccinated on social media

A major controversy was triggered when some people were seen being vaccinated in a house in the presence of Federal Minister for Housing Tariq Bashir Cheema of the PML-Q. The video clip that was originally shared on the Instagram account of one of Mr Cheema’s relatives showed health workers vaccinating several people gathered at someone’s home.

Though Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, who also chairs the meetings of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), suggested to both the federal and Punjab governments to investigate the matter, no progress has been made.Mr Umar had said it was unfortunate that some people wanted to show that they were above the law. “However, we have examples that President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan waited for their turns and got the jab when it was due,” he had said.

An official of the NHS ministry, requesting not to be quoted, said different ways were being used to vaccinate people who were less than 50 years of age.

“Though messages are generated from the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), Nadra cannot be involved in it as a message is generated only after verifying the age and permanent address of the person,” he said.

“The violation is being done at hospitals and incharges of vaccination centres are vaccinating people at their own risk. It can be done for monetary benefits or due to personal contacts. As vaccine audit is not being done, incharges vaccinate unregistered people and maintain the record manually. The record will be updated once their turn will come,” he said.

“Hospitals have web portals of their staff. Though it is difficult to misuse names of doctors, ineligible people can be vaccinated against names of paramedics and other staff as a number of them don’t believe in vaccination. The district health officers can also do that as they deal with the vaccine. Moreover, it can also be done at the level of NCOC and the National Institute of Health (NIH),” he said.

“Moreover, a term ‘wastage due to unforeseen reason’ is also used for out of turn vaccination. It is said the vaccine has been spoiled due to different reasons such as temperature could not be maintained due to electricity issue or out of order refrigerator, or beaker of vaccine was broken or injection was dropped,” he said.

“In other words, it is shown in documents that the vaccine has been spoiled. But in fact the vaccine is administered to someone. It can never be leaked as both staff and people try to hide it. However, the trend of having selfie, video and picture of every moment has exposed it,” he said.

Joint Executive Director Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) Dr Minhajus Siraj told Dawn that it was impossible to do out of turn vaccination at hospitals as they verify the message generated by Nadra.

“A fake code cannot be generated from Nadra and that is why we reconfirm the code before administering jabs,” he said.

Young Consultants Association Pakistan Chairman Dr Asfandyar Khan said there was no option to abuse the system but humanly it was being done.

Spokesperson for NHS Sajid Shah said there was zero tolerance regarding misuse of vaccine.

“The NCOC has decided that vaccination will be done for different age groups in phases. So far, we have not received any complaint in the federal capital as provincial governments are responsible to look into the violations. However, we have devised a line of action and strict action will be taken if any one is be found involved,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2021

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