Confusion reigns as Sri Lanka begins to vaccinate general public

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s vaccination rollout has gotten off to a shaky start – though a start nonetheless – amid much confusion about whom among the public is entitled to the jab.

A number of anecdotal accounts seen on social media today painted a picture of chaos, inefficiency and favouritism, with stories of older people being turned away after standing in a queue for hours and, in at least one case, fights breaking out.

This is in stark contrast to what was promised to be a smooth, streamlined vaccination rollout that adhered to a widely publicised priority list, which according to various media reports was arbitrarily discarded last week.

This is the scene at the Public Library a short while ago. Supposedly a vaccination centre by CMC. Stood for about an…

Posted by Anjali Fernando on Sunday, February 21, 2021

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No government ministers or health ministry officials were available for comment today, but speaking to EconomyNext, Public Health Inspector’s Association Secretary Mahendra Balasuriya said all citizens above 30 years of age in high-risk areas of the country will receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine.

District Medical Officers of Health (MOH) or the relevant municipal council have been tasked with informing people who live in high risk areas that immunisation is taking place and when are where to go.

However, many have complained that they received no communication that the vaccine was being administered in their neighbourhood.

Many more have simply heard the news through word of mouth and rushed to locations where people were reportedly being vaccinated on a first-come-first-serve basis.

“The priority list was categorized to different groups but the president ordered to vaccinates people above 30 years of age,” Balasuriya said, reiterating that people living in high risk areas of the Western Province will receive the jab.

As of yesterday 338,769 have received the first dose of their Covishield vaccine so far, starting with frontline workers in the health sector and the military.

“Vaccination is done only in high risk areas in the Western Province. In those areas we send the Grama Niladhari to notify the residents,” he said, though this does not seem to have been the cases in some areas.

“Whatever the government does, people will always find something to complain about,” he said. (Colombo/Feb22/2021)

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