Kolkata : At least 25 people were injured, including six seriously, when hundreds of local residents tried to enter a vaccination centre in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, leading to a stampede-like situation on Tuesday, officials said.
Though there was no stampede, similar chaotic situations were noticed at Murshidabad medical college and in several places in North 24 Parganas district.
In wake of the incident, the state government has now decided to distribute coupons for vaccination.
The incident at Jalpaiguri happened in the afternoon when people standing outside the vaccination centre rushed inside. “As soon as the main gate of Dhupguri Health Centre was opened, several people tried to get inside the facility pushing each other. A stampede-like situation arose there. Several women were injured. We are probing the matter,” an official said.
A senior police officer of Jalpaiguri said: “The injured people have been rushed to Jalpaiguri district hospital and they are undergoing treatment. We are probing the matter. According to a preliminary investigation, those who were in the queue tried to enter the centre in the apprehension of a shortage of vaccine doses.”
The inoculation programme at the facility has been stopped following the incident, he added.
Chief Secretary H.K. Diwedi held a meeting with the District Magistrates, Superintendents of Police, and Chief Medical Officer of Health, and instructed them to streamline the vaccination system.
“The district administration has been asked to increase manpower and counters at the vaccination centres to avoid rush. The DMs have been asked to arrange for more police force at the vaccination centres,” an official said.
Senior officials said that several decisions have been taken to control the rush. “It has been decided that the state will arrange for distribution of coupons to the people two days before and none will be allowed inside the vaccination centres without a coupon,” an official said.
“Coupons will be delivered one to two days in advance. In addition to the staff of the district Health Department, ICDS staff must be employed to distribute coupons. Additional District Magistrate, Additional Superintendent of Police or senior health officials should be present at the vaccination centres,” the official added.
The District Magistrates have also been asked to make arrangements for vaccination in large grounds to avoid any kind of chaos. They have also been asked to open several counters and disperse people so that there is no crowd at a particular place.
“This will help in crowd management as well help in maintaining the covid protocol,” the official said.
The Chief Secretary also asked the district administration to make arrangements for necessary police force and should ask the Inspector-in-Charge or the Officer-in-Charge of the respective police station to be present at the vaccination centres and personally oversee the crowd management.