Even as the country’s vaccination strategy faces a race against time with cases of Coronavirus rising across the country, the problem of vaccine wastage has continued in almost all the states of the country with many reporting more wastage of crucial vaccines than the national average. According to an Indian Express report, against the national vaccine wastage share of 6.5 per cent, states/UTs like Jammu & Kashmir (6.6 percent) has reported a higher wastage rate of 6.6 per cent, Telangana (17.6 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (11.6 per cent), UP (9.4 per cent), and Karnataka (6.9 per cent) .
Government officials tracking the vaccination wastage in the country have zeroed in on two primary reasons for the high wastage of Coronavirus vaccine. One, the health workers who are vaccinating are not properly trained to take out vaccine shots from the multi-dose vials while the second reason behind the wastage is improper planning at the local vaccination centre.
A top official told The Indian Express that each vial of vaccine contains 10 doses and if the vaccination centre only has six individuals, the rest go waste as once the vial has been opened all its doses are to be used instantly. So far as training of vaccinators is concerned, the official said that some vaccinators are able to pull out only nine out of the 10 doses from the vial effectively wasting 10 percent of the vaccine doses.
The officials also said that the states have been instructed to undertake detailed planning at the local vaccination centres and open the vaccine vial only if ten potential beneficiaries are present at the centre. In far-flung rural areas of the country, if the centre fails to get 10 individuals in a day then their vaccination should be postponed to the next day with other beneficiaries.
The top official who wanted to remain anonymous also said that states like UP, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have said that extensive planning will be undertaken at the vaccination centres from now onwards. However, the states added that refusal to vaccinate a small group of people and turning them away for another day might lead to vaccination hesitancy and could pose problems later.
Even as some of the states are reporting vaccine wastage at a higher rate than the national average, some of the larger states are wasting far less than the national average including Tamil Nadu (3.7 per cent), Bihar (4 per cent), West Bengal (4.8 per cent), Rajasthan (5.6 percent), Assam (5.5 per cent), and Gujarat (5.3 per cent).