MUMBAI: An 83-year-old Meera Barve broke into a smile when the nurse injected her with the vaccine on Friday. Since the pandemic broke out in 2020, the octogenarian has met her daughter, who lives 200kms away in Dapoli, just twice. The last time a few months ago, she sat at arm’s length wearing a mask. “I was eager to get vaccinated,” said Barve, hoping to meet her daughter more often now.
Barve was among 14 bed-ridden inmates at the Home for the Aged in Jogeshwari (east) to be inoculated on day 1 of the door-to-door immunisation drive. A total of 37 people from K east ward, including slums in Chakala and Sakinaka, were vaccinated by members from NGO Project Mumbai and civic teams who criss-crossed the city’s second most populated ward in an ambulance. All recipients had to produce a fitness certificate and a consent letter.
The drive started with Daya Joshi (79), a resident of Vijay Nagar in Andheri E, who has been rendered immobile by her heart condition, diabetes and weakness. Her son, Dr Nitin Joshi, said everyone in their house was fully vaccinated except her. “It’s a great initiative and people should sign up without fear,” he said.
Friday’s drive will be reviewed to start it across Maharashtra. For now, producing a fitness certificate and ensuring the presence of a doctor for the 30-minute observation period appear to be the biggest hindrances, said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner. While over 200 requests for home vaccination have come from K east, barely 25-30 were able to arrange a fitness certificate, said Dr Urmila Patil, ward’s medical officer of health.
Under the guidelines, those interested in home vaccination must also provide a consent letter. Dr Niranjan Wagh, who runs the Jogeshwari home along with wife Sumangala, a nurse, said barring a few inmates, almost all families have given their consent for vaccination. “Since the pandemic started, we have cut down physical visits from relatives. We hope with vaccination things will be closer to normalcy,” he said.
At least a dozen vaccinations were carried out in slum colonies inside Sakinaka, Chakala and MIDC, said Shishir Joshi, founder of Project Mumbai. Of the four vials opened, barely a few doses were wasted, said Joshi, as they had micro-mapped the ward to save travel time. “We are calling people beforehand and asking them to keep documents ready. From Monday, we intend to vaccinate 50-75 people daily,” he said.