Covid-19 vaccination programme: Overcoming obstacles a necessity
By Yumiko Perera
Sri Lanka in the past week saw the highest number of infections the country had witnessed since the first local outbreak of the coronavirus. While a new wave of infections is fast engulfing the country, expediting the vaccination process is key to curb the spread of infections amongst people and making sure no more lives are claimed.
The Sunday Morning reached out to several individuals to understand their perspective on the situation and their insight into how the vaccination process can be made more effective and efficient.
Must plan vaccine process
Sajeevram Thayanandan, 31, product manager
I believe a prior appointment should be given for the vaccine, especially in the Colombo and Gampaha Districts. If the vaccines are given in batches, then there would be less of a crowd. If the prior appointment options cannot be implemented, at least a token system should be used so that people do not need to waste time in order to get vaccinated.
In areas outside Colombo and Gampaha, the authorities should get the help of the GS (gramasewaka/grama niladhari) offices and plan for the vaccination process now itself, so that everyone knows when and where to go to get the vaccines and not encounter the same hassle everyone is encountering in Colombo and Gampaha.
Need to support Government
Geethika Jayasinghe, teacher
Long queues are obvious since vaccination is a national need. We have to tolerate the problems. However, people should maintain discipline and abide by the health guidelines the Government and the healthcare sector has provided. Healthcare workers have taken a big risk for the betterment of the people of the country. I have no words to explain their dedication.
Ideally, there needs to be a proper distribution of vaccines, but as a country, we can’t seem to get the required number of vaccines at once. Therefore, the Government is not in a position to do a perfect job at the moment. We should have unity at a crucial point like this and support the Government. We must also not forget that everybody is at equal risk and therefore do our part as responsible citizens.
Government should consider ID system
Janani Vithanage, undergraduate
I feel the vaccination process would be more effective if the authorities were to implement the ID system so that the vaccination areas are less crowded.
I also think the authorities should look into the option of making the vaccines available for cash at private hospitals. Therefore, if the vaccines are made available for purchase, those who can afford them will get themselves and their family vaccinated. This would help the country reach the goal of herd immunity faster.
The free vaccines could be for households that earn less than a certain amount per year. In addition, people need to be better educated on the positives of getting vaccinated and clear the myths on its “side effects”. This could perhaps be done by playing short clips of well-known doctors speaking on TV or the radio, in the way advertisements are played.
People need to be made aware
Shenal Fernando, 28, banker
I don’t think people have been made aware of the vaccination programmes as much as they should have been. The authorities need to try to get the message across to a vast number of people, and for that, electronic and social media may not suffice. The lack of a proper vaccination mechanism is the other thing that the authorities need to pay attention to.
People have been standing in long queues for hours in order to get vaccinated; they need to come up with an alternative solution where the general public would not have to go through so much hassle and preferably be assigned a certain time and date to come and get vaccinated according to an allocated number.
Government should not monopolise vaccination
Shahdia J., architect
I am aware of the ongoing vaccination programme, but only due to the alerts and news provided by independent journalists and professionals. There have been long queues and chaos and it goes two ways. One is because the general public most often lacks the discipline in managing an orderly manner of behaviour, leading to fights and aggression within the queues, and the other is because there isn’t a standardised system in information provision while queuing, regardless of being able to book a place via channelling.
Numbers issued on one day are disregarded the next day, the quantity of vaccines available in a location is not made clear meaning that a good number in the queue would have been standing in line for nothing, as well as those with means being able to pull strings and favours to skip the process and reserve/take the vaccination.
The best way forward to make sure that the general public beyond Colombo and immediate surrounding districts also get the shots would be to privatise vaccination and allow private hospitals to purchase vaccines at their cost. The Government monopolising the vaccination distribution will only cause more chaos so this seems the most feasible way forward.
Should consider making available privately
Durand Dennon, 19, student
I am quite aware and updated on the ongoing vaccination programme. I wish the vaccines had been administered to the public a little faster and more efficiently. That being said, the authorities have done a commendable job so far. They must now focus on expediting the vaccination process as there are still some people waiting for the second jab.
I think the authorities need to consider vaccinating the younger people as well and make it available for purchase from the private sector, so anybody willing to get vaccinated would have access to it.
No methodical way yet
Keshan Samarakoon, 27, junior executive
I am well aware of the vaccination programme, but I don’t think there is still a methodical way of carrying out the vaccination process promptly. GN officers can opt for a method through which they would vaccinate people lane by lane, under their supervision. I feel it would be more effective and that way people do not get to intermingle with each other, thus reducing the chances for exposure and the further spread of the virus.
State sector inefficient and corrupt
Nazi Jamaldeen, 59, homemaker
I have very low awareness. I live in the suburbs of Colombo and have to depend on word of mouth. It is very confusing. I feel that a better and effective mode of communication and awareness is essential in this regard.
If the private sector hospitals organise their vaccination programmes, then those who need to get vaccinated would have the chance to go and get vaccinated without a hassle. The state sector is inefficient and corrupt.
Vaccinating without a plan
Zeenath Kamal, 24, software engineer
Authorities need to be more methodical if they are to continue the vaccination process. There doesn’t seem to be a proper contingency plan when it comes to administering the vaccines, nor the procuring process. From what I can see, the programme is being implemented without a proper game plan whatsoever.
The private sector should be granted permission to try and procure vaccines so that those who are willing to purchase would be able to get vaccinated, which would only lessen the Government’s burden.
Main Image by ESHAN DASANAYAKA