India's record of over 2.5 crore Covid vaccinations on September 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday, may have had a little twist in Madhya Pradesh. The state's contribution -- a milestone in itself at over 27 lakh doses -- included several errors, including some bizarre ones.
A number of people who had not received their Covid shots somehow seem to have been issued vaccination certificates.
"Dear Vidya Sharma, you have successfully been vaccinated with your second dose with Covishield on 17th September, when India set a world record in vaccinations," reads one text message. Ashutosh Sharma, a resident of Aagar-Malwa district, 200 kilometres northwest of capital Bhopal, had received it at exactly 8.02 pm on September 17. It was about his mother.
"Dear Vidya Sharma, you have successfully been vaccinated with your 2nd dose with Covishield on 17th September",when India set a world record in #vaccinations Ashutosh was shocked because his mother had died of #COVID19 4 months earlier @ndtv@ndtvindia@manishndtv@GargiRawatpic.twitter.com/R1loSFh0I2— Anurag Dwary (@Anurag_Dwary) September 22, 2021
There was a problem, though. Ms Sharma had died of Covid four months ago. Her shocked son then downloaded and saved the certificate.
"I have her death certificate in one hand and her vaccination certificate in another...I think a lot of pressure is being put on the officials, to increase the numbers," Mr Sharma told NDTV.
A similar message was delivered on that day on the phone of one Pinky Verma, another Aagar resident. Her second dose had been administered, it said.
Unlike Ms Sharma, the 26-year-old-was alive. But the message said she had got vaccinated at a centre in Jhalawar, Rajasthan.
"I got the first dose on June 8. The second was due on September 7, but I was unwell so missed it. I think they are intentionally doing this to increase the figures," Ms Verma said.
Bhopal's Leela Sutar's was another such case. The 54-year-old got her first dose of vaccine on March 25, then got infected and ended up missing her second.
"If I go out somewhere, I will have to face trouble. What should I do?" she now asks.
The government's response, when asked about these cases, was familiar.
"There may be one or two cases, it will be investigated if there is any clerical error," said Vishwas Sarang, the Madhya Pradesh Medical Education Minister.
In June, NDTV reported the case of a 13-year-old receiving certificate even though only those aged 18 and above are administered Covid vaccines in India. Back then, too, the government's response had been the same: 'Can be a clerical error and will get this investigated.'
Preparations are now on for another mega push on September 27 -- the goal is to ensure the entire population of the state is covered with the first dose.