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900 inoculation sites in Odisha shut due to vaccines shortage

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Bhubaneswar, Apr 11: The opening day of the 'Tika Ustav' in Odisha witnessed as many as 81,169 people taking jabs at 593 sessions sites, while the state government had to shut about 900 centres Sunday due to shortage of vaccines, triggering a blame game between the ruling BJD and the opposition BJP.

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Though the state had on April 10 inoculated 1,13,566 citizens, the number came down to 81,169 due to non- availability of the vaccines, a senior official said.

He added that the state would be able to operate 775 session sites on April 12 with the remaining vaccines available.

'We do not know whether the state can continue the vaccinations in two remaining days (April 13 and 14)) of the Tika Ustav,' a senior official said.

Director of Family Welfare Bijay Panigrahi said, of over 1400 session sites generally held for inoculation of health workers, frontline workers, senior citizens and people above 45 years, about 900 centres remained closed due to non- availability of the vaccine doses.

Though Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during his video conference interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 8 had sought 25 lakh doses of vaccines, the state on April 10 received only 2.5 lakh vaccines.

The chief minister had said that Odisha is at present vaccinating 2.5 lakh persons per day and has the capacity to ramp up it further.

The states Health & Family Welfare minister N K Das and Additional Chief Secretary, H&FW P K Mohapatra had written separate letters to the centre seeking more vaccines for smooth conduct of inoculation during the four day Tika Ustav and subsequent programmes.

However, the government had to close down about 900 centres due to shortage of the vaccines on the first day of the Tika Ustav Sunday, said a senior official.

On the launch of the four-day 'Tika Utsav' from April 11 to April 14, Panigrahi said, the purpose of the vaccination festival is to ensure zero wastage of vaccines and motivate people to get inoculated.

The issue triggered political slugfest in Odisha.

Odishas labour minister Sushant Singh accused the Centre of not performing 'Raj dharma' and discriminating against Odisha in the distribution of the vaccines, a charge denied by the BJP.

BJP MLA Mukesh Mahaling said, Eastern India, including the coastal state, is on the priority list of the central government.

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'Statistics reveal that BJP-ruled states are being given preference in the distribution of vaccines. Where is 'Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Bikas' slogan now? It is the duty of the king to treat everyone in equal terms. This is Rajdharma,' the Odisha minister said.

With the second wave of COVID-19 sweeping across the country, there should be no discrimination against Odisha, Singh said.

Describing Singh's comment as 'irresponsible', BJP MLA Mukesh Mahaling said, 'He is a member of the Council of Ministers and his irresponsible statement is not acceptable.

'There has been no discrimination against states on political lines. Odisha will certainly get the required number of vaccines.' So far, official sources said that Odisha has 1,59,439 Covisheild and 71,010 Covaxine left for running 775 session sites on April 12, the official said.

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