With no end in sight for this pandemic, vaccination might be our only way forward, and it appears as though it might soon become mandatory for travellers to be vaccinated before they are allowed to visit certain destinations.
In this article, I am covering the procedure of my family members getting the vaccine recently in Mumbai, India. I made a booking through the online platform (Co-Win) on Friday (April 9, 2021) and got the earliest available time slot on Sunday (April 11, 2021).
I was pleasantly surprised by this quick availability, as I had expected the waiting period to be much longer, given the recent shortage in vaccine doses.
Online registration for Covid-19 vaccine
The Co-Win website stated that I could use one phone number to register up to four people for the appointment, so I used my dad’s number to register my parents and both my grandmothers.
The process was easy and required me to follow a few simple steps:
- First I made a profile for my dad as I was using his phone number, which required me to authorize it with an OTP that he received on his phone. Then I had to just enter one of his government identification numbers (Aadhaar card, passport, driving license, PAN Card, NPR smart card, voter ID or pension passbook) and the year of his birth.
- Once that was done, I could then add three more profiles, with only the government identification number and the year of birth.
The online portal then presented us with options of multiple time slots, starting from 9am to 6pm. After discussing with my parents I chose the 11am-1pm slot.
The website was very user-friendly and I didn’t experience any lag at any of the steps, which usually happens when the servers have an overflow of traffic.
Online registration can be done through Aarogya Setu app as well, and requires the same procedure to be followed. At the Nair vaccination centre in Mumbai Central, they were accepting walk-in registration as well. Do keep in mind that Nair is one of the major government healthcare facilities in Mumbai, and therefore must have the capacity to tend to a lot of people.
For smaller facilities authorised to provide Covid vaccination in your locality, I would suggest you be certain beforehand if they are accepting walk-ins. Online registration is highly recommended, as it is a very simple process and will hardly take 3-4 minutes to complete.
Note that at the moment the vaccination is only available for people aged 50 and above.
Arriving at the vaccination centre
There were chairs arranged to form a queue in an orderly fashion, and so my parents could wait comfortably in their chairs, and the queue moved forward by people switching their chairs for the one in front. This also ensured that social distance was maintained while waiting.
The waiting period was less than 30 minutes, and this was on a Sunday when I expected there to be more crowd. On a weekday, you should expect an even quicker movement of the queue.
My grandma is in excess of 78 and requires assistance in walking. I was happy to see that there was a separate waiting area for senior citizens and people with disabilities, and this was really helpful for her.
What happened inside?
I wasn’t allowed to accompany my parents inside, but my father explained the process was as follows.
First up was the registration counter where they only needed the phone number that was used for registration. Once that was provided, they could see all the information that was provided during the booking process on the online portal. All four of my family members were provided a form, which already stated the vaccine they would be receiving (all were given Covishield, the name for the locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccine). They just needed to add their names and phone numbers.
After filling the form, they were directed to the doctor’s counter, who enquired about any comorbidities and ongoing medications, then stamped the form before asking them to move to the next counter.
In the third step, they were required to go to the counter where there were staff members who were filling the details on their computers. Afterwards, my parents received the message “You have successfully been vaccinated with your 1st Dose with COVISHIELD”. They did, however, identify a loophole in this step, which I have discussed in more detail below.
The fourth step was to take the vaccine and there was a short queue outside the vaccination room, which had at least six booths. Once inside, they were asked if this was the first or the second dose before receiving the shot on the upper left arm.
After this, they were advised to wait in the observation room for 30 minutes, so they could report if there was any uneasiness. While they waited, the nurse handed them a couple of Paracetamols each and advised them to take one if there was any fever. Note that post-vaccination waiting is not mandatory, but it is strongly advised.
There is a photo booth located at the exit door, where my parents decided to click a quick photo (he took the mask off only for the photo).
From arriving at the vaccination centre to leaving it, the whole process took approximately one hour, and it was hassle-free. Even the security personnel on duty were very polite and considerate and made sure there was no inconvenience caused to anyone.
Loophole in the process
There was a massive loophole in the vaccination process, and I would like the government to address this issue and improve the efficiency. As described by my father, once the person has cleared the third step (where the staff member has entered the details in their system and one has received a confirmation message that you have taken the vaccine), he/she can easily exit the facility without taking the vaccine.
This means that according to government data, that person has already been administered a dose, while in reality, he/she hasn’t taken it. This could result in the wrong assessment of the situation due to unreliable statistics.
After getting back home, I researched and enquired briefly about this procedure and found that there were a few people who had already exploited this loophole.
After reading the recent news story about people from different localities (which had run out of vaccine doses) rushing to the Nair vaccination facility, I was a little tense about having to face long waiting lines, but all my worries went away when I arrived at the centre. The setting here was very systematic, and there were no long waiting lines.
The organisation and arrangement were absolutely on point, and I am really happy with the way everything was handled. If you are holding back because you aren’t sure about how it is going to be, I would urge you to go ahead and get the vaccine shot done immediately, as the whole process is very smooth (including the online part) and the government has got logistics absolutely on point.
I was concerned to learn about this loophole, which could lead to more problems and I hope that Government of Maharashtra and Government of India look into this and get rid of this problem by putting a better system in place.
What are your thoughts about the vaccination? Have you taken it yet?