India: Kerala's first drive-in Covid vaccination centre a huge success

Navjot Khosa, the district collector of Thiruvananthapuram, at the drive-in vaccination centre. Supplied photo
Navjot Khosa, the district collector of Thiruvananthapuram, at the drive-in vaccination centre. Supplied photo

Pune - All 4,000 slots for the first four days have already been booked at the centre in Thiruvananthapuram.

By Nithin Belle

Published: Fri 20 Aug 2021, 4:33 PM

Residents of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, now have new and easy access for Covid-19 vaccinations. They can just drive a car, ride a bike, pedal or even walk to a sprawling facility in the heart of the city after getting an online appointment, get vaccinated, rest for a while before heading off to work or home.

“There has been a tremendous response to the drive-in vaccination centre, the first time it is being held in Kerala,” Navjot Khosa, the district collector of Thiruvananthapuram, told Khaleej Times on Friday evening.

“We also provide flexibility to the people, who can finish all their work, get an appointment for 10pm or any other time they want during the 24-hour span and drive in to the facility.”

Importantly, the vaccination is being done during the ongoing Onam festival. “We did not want the people to forget the need to get vaccinated even during the festival,” she said.

“It is very important for the citizens to get vaccinated against Covid-19.”

The response has been overwhelming and all 4,000 slots for the first four days have been booked. The state’s health minister Veena George said the drive-through vaccination facility can be extended to other districts in the state, looking at its success in the capital.

Kerala has been one of the worst-hit states in India in terms of Covid cases and fatalities. On Thursday, it recorded 21,116 fresh Covid-19 cases, raising the total infections to 3.74 million and the toll (after 197 deaths on the day) to 19,246.

According to the minister, over 25 million Covid-19 doses have been administered in the state so far including 18.68 million first doses and 6.83 million second ones. All citizens above 18 are expected to be vaccinated by the end of September, said Veena.

The drive-through vaccination centre was opened at the sprawling Government College for Women and volunteers from the college and other centres pitched in, helping the officials to ensure a smooth movement of people.

Citizens have to book for the vaccination on the CoWIN portal and then visit the facility on the specific day. They do not have to step off their vehicles, get vaccinated and then wait for up to 30 minutes at the parking lot. “We have also tied up with a hospital in case there’s an emergency and a person has to be treated,” said the district collector.

As more people get familiar with the innovative campaign and do not have to visit hospitals for the vaccinations, Khosa expects the numbers to go up over the coming days. “We can manage up to 1,500 people daily at the facility,” she said.

Many major cities and states across India are now opting for drive-in facilities to encourage people to get vaccinated at the earliest. And the response too has been encouraging.

More news from coronavirus