Covid vaccine centres overrun by people in Karachi

Published August 1, 2021
People queue up and wait to get themselves inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi. — AFP
People queue up and wait to get themselves inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi. — AFP

KARACHI: People are rushing for Covid-19 vaccination in large numbers following the government announcement that mobile phone SIMs of unvaccinated people would be blocked and they wouldn’t get their August salary, it emerged on Saturday.

Sources said long queues were being seen at all vaccination centres across the province, particularly in Karachi, where the situation became serious when people waiting for long hours lost patience at two facilities — the mega vaccination facility at the Expo Centre and Khaliqdina Hall.

The vaccination process was marred there by violence and property damage.

“Yes, people are getting violent and there have been instances where the police had to be called to control the situation,” said Samreen Ashraf Qureshi, the provincial focal person for Covid-19 vaccination, adding that there was no injury at any place.

Dr Qureshi confirmed reports of sudden people’s surge at vaccination centres across the province and said it happened after the government announced important directives for unvaccinated people.

“The law enforcement agencies have been called in, the number of guards increased and the staff is trying its best to ensure compliance [with] SOPs at all facilities.”

Asked about the current vaccination status, she said, “Right now, we are vaccinating 1.5 lakh plus people daily in the province. Of them, 105,000 people are being vaccinated in Karachi. The Expo Centre has the largest share with over 16,000.

“In addition, the government has deputed 50 mobile teams in each district for vaccination. We have already launched the second largest vaccination centre in Hyderabad near Niaz Stadium and the first drive-through vaccination facility in Karachi.”

Dr Qureshi rejected reports of vaccines’ shortage and said all vaccination centres had sufficient supplies. “We have received the latest batch of over 3m doses of Moderna vaccine. Other vaccines including Pfizer, AstraZeneca (for the second dose), Sinopharm, SinoVac and CanSino (reserved for far-flung areas and for critical patients) are also available.”

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2021

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