The union government has terminated the fresh registration of healthcare workers (HCWs) and frontline workers (FLWs) to receive vaccination against Covid-19 with immediate effect. The order came on Saturday after the government received reports of fake entries by vaccine beneficiaries at a few Covid Vaccination Centres followed by an anomaly that came to its notice.

In a letter accessed by The Statesman, the union health ministry informed the Covid immunisation centres to stop registrations of HCWs and FLWs immediately flagging an unusual spike of 24 per cent in registration by HCWs and FLWs to receive Covid-19 vaccine in the last few days, coupled with reports of fake enrollments by beneficiaries under aforementioned categories at a few CVCs.

The decision was taken at a meeting by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) held earlier on Saturday.

“Various inputs have been received from different sources that in some of the CVCs [vaccination centres], some ineligible beneficiaries are being registered as HCWs and FLWs and are getting vaccinated in complete violation of the prescribed guidelines. There has been a 24% increase in the HCW database in the past few days. This issue was discussed with state representatives and domain knowledge experts in the NEGVAC meeting today that is 3/4/ 2021 and as per the recommendation of NEGVAC, it has been decided that no fresh registrations in categories of HCW is and FLW is will be allowed with immediate effect,” union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote in the letter addressed to health secretaries in the states.

However, the registrations of persons aged 45 years and above will continue to be permitted on the CoWIN portal, he added.

The order has been implemented with immediate effect as vaccination centres told The Statesman that the option to enrol the HCWs and FLWs has been removed from the CoWIN portal.

“Now the only option it’s (CoWIN) showing is of the citizens where people aged above 45 are registered for vaccination,” Dr Shilpa Pandita, deputy medical superintendent and nodal officer for Covid vaccination at Tirath Ram Shah Hospital said.

Meanwhile, Bhushan also noted that the deadline for registration for HCWS and FLWs was pushed multiple times.

“All efforts have been made in close collaboration with states UTS to saturate vaccination of HCWs and FLWs. While tracking the progress, the timeline for completing vaccination of all HCWs and FLWs with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine has been extended multiple times and was finally fixed as 25 February 2021 for HCWs and 6 March 2021 for FLWs. Around one month has elapsed since these timelines and even after starting vaccination of population above 60 years of age, provision was made to register and vaccinate HCWs and FLWs with a view to ensure optimal coverage,” he wrote.

According to the provisional report till 8 pm Saturday, a total of 7,44,42,267 vaccine doses have been administered so far in the country. These include 89,53,552 HCWs who have taken the first dose, 53,06,671 HCWs who have taken the second dose, 96,19,289 FLWs who got the first dose, 40,18,526 FLWs who got the second dose, 4,57,78,875 for people aged 45 years and received the first dose, and finally 7,65,354 for 45 years old and above who received the second dose.