In Focus

Colaba society gets COVID jabs for members, domestic help even pujaris!

By Manu Shrivastava

"Bohut achche se diya, injection. Dard hua hi nahin," said a relieved pujari to a colleague. After about 20 minutes of anticipating the pain, while standing in line waiting for his turn, when the jab took about 30 seconds, he was left speechless.

The pujari couldn't stop beaming as he walked out with his colleague from the vaccination camp held at Colaba's Ameeta Cooperative Housing Society, located opposite Mantralaya. He received his first shot of Covishield that cost Rs 1,350 'for free' as it was paid for by a client family whose home he visits daily.

RELIEVED: A 'pujari' too who visits Ameeta CHS regularly was vaccinated at the drive

"The response from societies that have asked for vaccines to be delivered in their premises, has been overwhelming," says Dr Sanjay Kapote of Apollo Clinic Colaba, which has conducted nine camps in housing societies across Colaba. 

Dr Sanjay Kapote
For societies interested in getting their members, families and visiting friends vaccinated, he says, "The society may contact the hospital or clinic directly but the BMC Health Officer has to be kept in the loop. The societies get approval only if they meet certain requirements such as availability of an observation room, waiting area, etc."

On the charges levied by Apollo Clinic Colaba he says, "It depends on an administering charge, which is fixed, additional costs on whether the society wants a cardiac ambulance or a normal ambulance, if they want an MD doctor on the site, etc." 

This arrangement as private clinics have been adopting may stay for now but is likely to change soon. The pricing, for private clinics, following the Centre's decision to cap service charge to Rs 150 beyond the price of the vaccine is expected to change after 21 June 2021. The vaccine provided otherwise through state and government hospitals will be for 'free'.

Ameeta Society, on its part, has had its share of COVID-positive members even got 'quarantined' twice since the pandemic started last year. This time, however, it was due to the efforts of a few proactive members, the society arranged for a vaccination camp in its premises to ensure all members, staff and regular friends get vaccinated.

"At Ameeta, as was the case with most other cooperative housing societies across Mumbai, the youngsters were unable to register for the vaccine as slots remained unavailable. Most of the members were scared as the second COVID wave had started to affect the young too. There were several cases in the society also. So, it was a mini COVID hotspot so to speak," offered member Shiv Kanodia.

The society has 78 flats and is "home to 300 people in all" that includes the members, families, domestic help, etc. "We have several members who are very old and unable to leave their homes. We also had to counsel several members who were not open to vaccination too," says wife Niru Kanodia.

PROACTIVE: Shiv Kanodia and wife Niru at the vaccination drive

Incidentally, last year in May there were about 25 instances of COVID-19 and this year in April about 17 instances of COVID-19 at the society. Vaccinating all was a necessity.

Shiv Kanodia and Niru had received the first dose of the COVID vaccine on 3 March 2021. However, on 9 April 2021, Niru lost her sense of smell and taste and the next morning Shiv developed a slight fever. They immediately isolated themselves.

Two days later when they got the tests done, the result came out positive. "We isolated ourselves in our rooms for two weeks and then in the house for five more days.  "It was only because we had taken the first dose that we didn't develop any severe symptoms. Which is why we wanted to make sure the other society members get their shots too," offered Niru.

TOGETHER: The Kanodias in good times (File Picture)

Besides the society members, friends, relatives and staff of members including domestic help, drivers, cooks and the society staff such as the watchmen, manager, etc., got vaccinated at the camp. "Why, some who visited the society regularly came in from as far as Navi Mumbai and Goregaon to get their jabs," said Shiv.

So, ten senior citizens in the society who didn't step out throughout the pandemic and even now didn't want to go to any hospital as they were scared, managed to get their first dose of the vaccine. In all, 137 people, including 80 members, were vaccinated in the camp that was held on 7 June 2021. The society paid for their staff such as the manager, watchmen, etc., while the members paid for their respective extended families, friends, domestic help, drivers, cooks, etc.

SHOTS FOR ALL: Paperwork under process at the Ameeta CHS vaccination drive 

It was the second-such camp for Apollo Clinic Colaba's nurse Bharati Mhatre administering the vaccine to the members of Ameeta CHS. The Chunabhatti-resident and mother of two has been working with the Colaba clinic since its inception. 

Her 14-year-old daughter Tanvi and nine-year-old son Aaradhya would earlier be worried sick for her at work but are now used to their mother working in such a high-risk condition. "Risk to rehta hai par ab kaam to karna hai na. Aur to aur maine vaccine le liya hai," she says, smiling broadly through her mask, softly reassuring the next candidate before delivering the jab.

LEADING THE WAY: Ameeta Cooperative Housing Society

Housing societies in Colaba interested in arranging a COVID Vaccination camp in the society premises have to contact the BMC A Ward Health Officer for approval and inquire about the availability of clinics, shots and timings.

This situation is, however, expected to persist only till 21 June 2021 as the Centre will procure and provide 'free' vaccines for all above the age of 18 across India after that as issues of vaccine shortage may be a thing of the past.

(Note: Some subjects may have removed their masks only to be identified in photographs to be used with this news report. COVID-19 appropriate behaviour has been maintained at all times)