The COVID-19 vaccination drive in India has been halted after multiple states reported glitch in the Co-WIN app. There were reports of data lag, erroneous communication or even total system failure. Many states have now postponed their vaccination drive. Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh has scrapped the rule that required mandatory use of the Co-WIN mobile app to schedule vaccination and record recipient data.
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C0-WIN was designed as a digital nerve centre of India’s Covid-19 vaccination program. However, due to glitches Co-WIN failed to inject integration efficiency into the massive nationwide exercise for the second consecutive day.
Multiple states reported data lag, erroneous communication or even total system failure.
Health department officials in Gurgaon said the app wasn’t working properly right from the start. Co-WIN, which automates the process of sending pre-vaccination intimation to recipients, failed to send advance texts to many registered users. Many of those who got their shots on Saturday received “prior intimation” of their appointments through SMS the next day.
In Punjab sources said health workers were apprehensive of the side-effects due to which a majority of them decided to skip the vaccination today and wait for the second phase. Meanwhile, some health workers were of the view that as they had already recovered from Covid, skipping the vaccination was not a risk.
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However, health officials blamed the technical glitch in the CoWin portal for the poor response. Due to the glitch, messages to beneficiaries could not be sent in time and they had to be telephonically informed about the vaccination, they said.
In Himachal Pradesh, the people scheduled for vaccination on day 1 did not receive the mandatory message from the CoWIN portal either at DDU or the IGMC, two of the three sites selected for vaccination.
“There’s some issue with the portal, but it will be resolved and the messages will go out to the beneficiaries,” said an official in the know of things.
Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh has now scrapped the rule that required mandatory use of the Co-WIN mobile app to schedule vaccination and record recipient data.
The health department can now carry out vaccination without pre-registering recipients. System administrators have been asked to manually upload data later.
In Bengaluru, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) asked Sir CV Raman General Hospital at Indiranagar to postpone the Covishield vaccine drive to Tuesday because of problems with the portal.
“The hospital had sent a list of 200 beneficiaries to the BBMP, which had to be uploaded on to the Co-WIN portal and approval obtained. But since the software was not working, the list was not reflecting on the site. Since we did not know which beneficiaries were on the day’s list, we could not carry out the drive,” said a source from the hospital.
Technical glitches in CoWIN app triggered communication lag and concerns among the beneficiaries which led to a relatively low turnout in the state of Maharashtra. Officials decided to postpone the vaccination drive and begin the next session on Tuesday, January 19, after a gap of two days.
In Assam, just over 2,000 health care workers could be vaccinated on Monday against the targeted figure of 6,500. The shortfall was because of a major technical glitch in the Co-WIN server that forced the state to stall vaccination at 24 sites across 12 districts. Vaccination coverage on the second day was just above 49%, around 5% below Saturday’s figure.
Telangana health workers administering the Covid-19 vaccine at the Government Chest Hospital in Hyderabad’s SR Nagar had to manually verify and record data after the Co-WIN app failed to update the names of the beneficiaries.
“The app is still not functioning to its full capacity. The manual process is taking a little time, but I guess we have no choice but to follow this method until the technical glitches are fixed,” said R Mary Premila, a vaccinator at the hospital.
Informing vaccine recipients about their appointments in advance proved the primary challenge in the absence of reliable automated communication. Instead of getting automated texts on their phones, the recipients received phone calls from the centres.
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