'Only timings reduced': No vaccination centre closed, clarifies Sindh govt amid reports of vaccine shortage
The Sindh government on Friday clarified that no vaccination centre had been closed in the province, including Karachi, despite a shortage of vaccines, adding however that the timings of some centres had been curtailed as the province awaits its stocks to be replenished.
In response to queries regarding reports of vaccine shortages and closures of centres, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah told Dawn.com that only 225 mobile vaccination units had been temporarily shut, which should not be confused with vaccination centres.
He added that the Sindh government had earlier allowed 60 private hospitals in the province to administer vaccines, but “the facility has also been closed because of a lack of availability of vaccines.”
The chief minister, who responded to the queries via his spokesperson Rasheed Channa, added that the province was expecting to receive 0.5 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine by Monday (June 21) and another 0.7m doses by Wednesday (June 23), which will help overcome the shortage.
Meanwhile, Sindh Health Department spokesperson Mehar Khursheed confirmed to Dawn.com that the province was facing a shortage of vaccines, but blamed the Centre for inadequate supply. She did not, however, have any information on the number of vaccine centres that had to temporarily closed or their timings curtailed due to the shortage.
On the other hand, Young Doctors Association Sindh President Dr Omer Sultan told Dawn.com that the Sinovac vaccine was not available at any vaccination centre across the city, while some doses of AstraZeneca were still in stock at a hospital in Malir, the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and the Expo Centre.
He said some people were reluctant to get the AstraZeneca shots because of the reported side effects, while the stock of Sinopharm vaccines had been reserved for people awaiting their second doses.
Meanwhile, witnesses at the Expo Centre Karachi said that Sinovac and Sinopharm were not available for the first dose, while only AstraZenaca was available for the initial dose.
A telephone operator at the Sindh Government Modern Hospital in district East of the city told Dawn.com they were administering vaccines to only those aged above 40.
At the Liaquat National Hospital, the telephone operator said they were administering vaccines all week except Sundays from 9am to 4pm. He added that anyone looking to get the jab should come by 9am to get an appointment.
According to the provincial health department, as many as 55,728 doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered on Thursday, taking the total number of shots administered to over 2.8 million, or 8.13 per cent of the population.
Of these, 2.23 million shots have been administered as a first dose, while 567,550 shots have been administered as a second dose. The province had a stock of 341,558 doses remaining as of Thursday, a breakdown of which is as follows:
- Sinopharm: 169,806
- Cansino: 31,428
- SinoVac: 65,373
- AstraZeneca: 50,652
- PakVac: 12,299
Recently, the NCOC also also lifted a rule barring the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for people below the age of 40 years.
On June 16, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan had said that thr Covid-19 vaccine shortage being reported at some vaccination centres was a temporary issue, adding that the situation was expected to improve after June 20.
"There are more than 2,000 vaccination centres in the country and the number of visitors varies. So there may be a shortage of vaccines in some centres," he had said, adding that busy centres have more demand. Sultan called on the public to cooperate with local authorities and staff at vaccination centres and to follow instructions.