Gangtok: Even as the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise in the state, the Sikkim government has reportedly exhausted its stock of COVID-19 vaccines for the 18-44 age group.

The last batch of vaccines was administered on Thursday, said reports. Apparently, the state government is not opening the slots for Friday onwards as there are no vaccines left with the health department.

The state was allocated 9,900 vaccines in May. It has now exhausted the stock after administering the vaccines over the course of 10 days since May 16, when the vaccination for the 18-44 age group began.

For June, the state’s health department has been allotted 11,060 vaccines, but the same could take at least a week to reach Sikkim, said officials.

Speaking with EastMojo, state immunisation officer Dr Phumzay Denzongpa said on Wednesday: “From tomorrow [Thursday], there will be no vaccination slots opening on the CoWIN portal for the 18-44 age group until we receive the fresh doses. However, booking for those above 45 years will continue.”

Despite states such as Sikkim reaching out to the Serum Institute of India (SII) directly for the COVID-19 vaccines, allocation is being carried out only by the Central government. “We have made the payment for the upcoming doses to the SII. We may receive them within this week or the first week of June,” Denzongpa added.

Meanwhile, the state government has initiated vaccination for the 18-44 age group only in East Sikkim district so far. Since East Sikkim is the most populous district, with the majority of COVID-19 cases and fatalities recorded so far, the state health department had put the district on top priority.

However, in a change in policy and after widespread criticism on other districts being ‘blocked out of the booking slots’, the next 11,000 doses will be distributed to the other three districts of the state. “Only a small portion of the vaccines will be kept for the Thakurbari Mandir vaccination centre in Gangtok,” said Denzongpa.

Also read: 122 monks test positive as Sikkim sees record spike in COVID-19 cases

Meanwhile, Sikkim is one of the few states in the country left with the balance stock of Covishield vaccines after they were administered to the age group of 45 years and above.

“The vaccines came free from the Central government. So, we have placed a request with the them to utilise the extra shots which we have. We will have around 40,000 doses left with us till the end of June. We want to utilise it on a loan basis,” he added.

The official also took note of the fact many residents are technologically unsound with some of them being patients with co-morbidities. “As such, on-site vaccination for such individuals will be initiated in June. But the stock is low and it will be very difficult for us,” he added.

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