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India acknowledges its vaccination-booking API excludes millions

Allows limited on-site registration for jabs

India has acknowledged the API it created to facilitate COVID-19 vaccination bookings excludes much of its population and started to allow on-site vaccination bookings to some of its populace.

The Co-WIN API was created to allow information about newly available vaccines to be distributed far and wide by third-party developers, and to make bookings easier too. Developers responded and created apps and services that allowed citizens to book their jabs based on near real time information about when and where vaccines had become available.

While the API mostly worked, and met its purpose of facilitating vaccination bookings, it was criticised because hundreds of millions of Indian citizens lack a smartphone, or internet access, or both. Meanwhile, a second wave of infections that reached over 400,000 new COVID-19 cases a day created enormous demand for vaccinations.

A Monday announcement from India’s government acknowledged that the API excluded some Indians and revealed some changes to jab-booking rules.

Indians aged 18 to 44 can now book a jab on site at government vaccination centres. The API also limits bookings to four people in a household. More people can now show up to book on-site.

The new arrangements still use the API to record vaccinations.

Demand for on-site bookings appears set to surge, as after the announcement that on-site bookings are possible India’s Health Ministry warned local health authorities “that abundant caution should be exercised and extreme due care should be taken while opening up of on-site registration and appointment for [the] 18-44 years age group, in order to avoid overcrowding at vaccination centres.” ®

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