NEW DELHI: Anjana Murali, 70, from Sarakki in south Bengaluru, was thrilled when her registration for a shot of the Covid-19 vaccine was accepted on the Co-Win portal on Monday. She turned up at the nearby healthcare centre of her choice in Jayanagar around noon on Tuesday, only to discover that the portal had assigned her to one in Bommanahalli, almost 9km away.
Anjana pleaded to be inoculated at Jayanagar, but it wasn’t to be. “I waited until 3.30pm before returning home. I got tired,” said Anjana, whose children live abroad.
Vijay Shenoy, in his 60s, said he could not even register. He visited Jayanagar General Hospital hoping to get the jab as a walk-in recipient, but was told prior registration was mandatory. “I could not register despite repeated attempts. On-site registration wasn’t happening, although the government had said it would,” said Shenoy, who is keen to get back to swimming once he is inoculated.
In Kolkata, senior citizens stepping out of their homes for the first time in a year grappled as much with the challenges of Co-Win as with the fear of being exposed to the virus while waiting with hundreds of others for their turn to get a jab. Those who visited select private hospitals were luckier.
Omprakash Kajaria, who got inoculated at AMRI Mukundapur, was among scores of people who had failed to register on the portal. “I then decided to go the hospital and ask for help. The authorities tried to get me registered online but couldn’t. Finally, they manually registered my name and gave me a shot,” he said.
At the state-run RG Kar Medical College and Hospital, the verification process was carried out like clockwork until the Co-Win portal crashed just after 79-year-old Lalit Mohan Chakraborty of Nagerbazar, the first vaccine recipient, got his shot. The vaccination officer failed to enter the data in the portal even after repeated attempts.
Surya Shaw, a 65-year-old from north Kolkata’s Shyambazar, had reached the hospital around noon. Two hours later, he was still waiting for his turn, with several ahead of him in the queue.
In Mumbai, Akshay Modi managed to register his 56-year-old uncle after multiple attempts. At the time of registration, the portal didn’t ask for any supporting certificate to be uploaded. But when he reached the vaccination centre at Nesco Goregaon, the staffers said they couldn’t upload the relevant certificate as it had to be first transferred to a mobile or computer. Akshay was asked to reschedule, which he said would be taxing on his mentally ill uncle, who has to be conditioned for days before he can step out of home. The officials later cleared the registration after verifying the hard copy of a document confirming the recipient’s mental condition.
Many others were in for a rude shock when the nearest inoculation site shown on the Co-Win portal turned out to be beyond city limits. Some of these sites were up to 50km away in other towns.
Jaipur resident and retired PWD official Mahendra Kumar Verma, 66, had successfully registered on the portal on Monday, but his name was missing from the list of recipients when he reached the Bani Park Satellite Hospital there. “I thought my chance was gone, but health officials registered me on the spot based on my Aadhaar details. I got the vaccine,” he said.
In Chandigarh, the Co-Win database didn’t go live until 11am, leaving doctors and health workers struggling to pacify restless senior citizens who had long been waiting for this day. “I have been here since 9am. I was handed a token like many others who hadn’t registered and kept waiting for three hours before being told to come next time,” said Veena Sambyal, a resident of Sector 45.
“We should not be disturbed this way. We could have been informed that the portal wasn’t working and not made to unnecessarily wait for our turn. It feels uneasy to wait in hospitals for long hours at this age,” said an elderly resident of Sector 44.
Nagpur resident Kaustubh Paunikar had a frustrating day trying to register his parents for a shot. Tejinder Singh Renu from the Vidarbha Taxpayers’ Association had the same experience. “My entire day was wasted,” he said.
Activist Shashank Gattewar said a blank page greeted him after he keyed in the OTP,
In Lucknow, elderly members of the Baijal family had to wait two hours to get themselves registered at the civil hospital. Their anxiousness disappeared only after they got their vaccine shots. “We can finally breathe easy,” said Usha Baijal, a retired faculty member of a state-run university. “We had feared there would be no vaccination when the portal wouldn’t accept our valid ID proof. Fortunately, the problem was sorted in two hours.”
Thiruvananthapuram resident Neelakandan Pillai, who has co-morbidities like asthma and was desperate to be vaccinated, missed out on a shot despite getting registered. “My son had booked an afternoon slot at the Nedumangad taluk office. On reaching there, my details were verified in the Co-Win app and I was given a token. Inside the vaccination room, they asked for my mobile number and again verified it in the app. But despite confirmation, the staff there said I was not eligible for vaccination today as government employees were still getting their shots,” he said.