Tinsukia: Amid reports of COVID-19 vaccine shortage coming in from several parts of the state, an “unauthorised” room inside the compound of SM Dev Civil Hospital in Assam‘s Silchar has been allegedly discovered, said reports. The room was reportedly being used to vaccinate people out of turn, in return for a sum of money.

The government has now ordered a probe into the blatant violation of guidelines laid down by the Union ministry of family health & Welfare (MoFHW).

An empty vaccine vial lying around in violation of disposal of vaccine guidelines

Confirming the development, health services (family welfare) director Munindra Nath Ngatey said, “I have ordered an inquiry into the alleged vaccination scam. According to news reports, a room inside the civil hospital was being illegally used to vaccinate people for a sum of money,” he added.

“The District Immunization Officer (DIO) has been ordered to submit his report by today itself,” said Ngatey.

The allegations have surfaced at a time when citizens aged between 18 and 45 years are having a hard time getting themselves registered on the CoWIN website to become eligible for vaccination. This is before they try for days to get a vaccine slot to stand in queues at centres far away from their residences.

According to reports, people are being vaccinated at this unauthorised ‘secret’ chamber out of turn. “A vegetable vendor allegedly paid Rs 1,000 to get himself inoculated, pointing towards black-marketing of life-saving vaccines, and a nexus between corrupt government officials and employees,” a local media report said.

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But why and on whose instruction was this room, with hardly a chair for one person, functioning as a vaccine centre?

EastMojo spoke to sources, who said: “There were three vials of COVID-19 vaccine found open in this ‘secret’ room, located in the additional chief medical and health office campus, to vaccinate 18 BSNL employees, following a list from the ADC health. However, five employees of BSNL did not turn up, so why were three vials opened to inoculate 13 persons? There were also more than three dozen 0.5ml syringes lying around, which smell of foul play.”

One vial of COVID-19 vaccine can vaccinate 10 persons.

An empty COVID-19 vaccine vial lying inside the room

“According to allegations, several random persons were also inoculated in this ‘secret’ room, which was not an authorised vaccine centre,” a source said, adding, “How did people come to know about this room for vaccination remains a mystery.”

Talking to EastMojo, additional deputy commissioner (health) of Cachar district Submit Sattavan said information about vaccines been given unauthorizedly was received.

“As such, additional CMHO has been asked to enquire into the matter and submit his report by today.”

Additional CMHO of Cachar Dr PK Roy said, “The alleged ‘secret’ room is a temporary vaccination centre, which we have used in the past also to vaccinate police and other security forces personnel.”

“Why three vials were allotted to the nurses, who administer vaccines, when the list sent by district administration contained only 18 names is something I cannot answer.”

“The room is in my campus but away from my chamber; so, I cannot keep a minute to minute track of who all are entering that room. In my investigation, I have found that few persons, whose names did not figure in the list sent by district administration, were beneficiaries. Some of them were relatives of the employees. I have submitted by report to the district administration,” Dr Roy told EastMojo.

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