PHIs say vaccination schedule inconsistent

By Vyshnavy Velrajh

The schedule for the COVID-19 vaccination programme is currently inconsistent, the Public Health Inspectors (PHI) Association charged.

Secretary to the Association M. Baalasooriya told Colombo Gazette that the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry keeps amending the schedule very often.

He said initially it was instructed to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to people above the age of 60 in identified high-risk areas.

However, it was amended and instructions were issued to vaccinate the working group between the ages of 30-60 in Free Trade Zones and factories.

Baalasooriya said soon after, it was amended yet again to vaccinate all above the age of 30 in grama niladhari divisions.

Then, once again, it was amended with instructions being issued to carry out the vaccination programme in selected grama niladhari divisions, he said.

The PHI Association Secretary said that the Epidemiology Unit has not issued proper circulars on the amended schedules, and hence an issue has arisen in this regard.

He acknowledged that despite announcements being made in areas pertaining to the vaccination centres, it was later not effective due to the constant change in the schedule.

When it was pointed out that certain PHI officers handling the vaccination process are unprofessional and rude to senior citizens, he said certain officers are acting up due to personal issues.

Baalasooriya said pressure due to the constant changes in the vaccination programme is also another reason for the behaviour of certain PHI officers.

Many incidents have been reported in the recent past of people being turned away from vaccination centres as they do not fall under the respective grama niladhari division.

The public have claimed that they have been turned away despite following the announcements made in the area on the specific date and centre for the vaccination programme.

Senior citizens are found to have been standing in queues for hours before being turned away, as they did not fall under the selected Grama Niladhari Division.

The inconsistent schedule for the vaccination programme has caused mostly senior citizens difficulty in obtaining the vaccine. (Colombo Gazette)

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