Chandigarh’s private hospitals fear losses as takers for paid vaccine dwindle
Availability of free vaccine at government centres has left slots for paid vaccination at city’s private hospitals vacant.
Witnessing the daily footfall gradually shrinking, owners of the hospitals are worried about financial losses as they have already sourced vaccine stock from the manufacturers and its shelf life is limited to nine months.
As many as 12 private hospitals are providing Covid-19 vaccines in Chandigarh apart from 79 government centres.
“We received 5,000 doses of Covishield vaccine, directly from the Serum Institute of India (SII), in June. Initially, over 150 people were visiting the hospital daily, but now, the number has dropped to less than 40. If the vials remain unused, we’ll suffer great financial loss,” said Dr Kuldeep Singh, owner of a city-based private hospital, adding that the primary reason for people not showing up was increase in government centres offering vaccination.
Dr Neeraj, another city-based doctor, said only 40-60 beneficiaries were visiting his hospital on an average daily. “Earlier all slots used to be booked in advance, but now we have few takers. If people don’t step in regularly through the day, doses get wasted,” he said.
Private hospital owners also blame repeated changes in central government’s policies for the slow pace of the vaccination drive.
“The Centre is making frequent changes in the vaccine procurement policies for private hospitals. Also, the price of vaccine doses has changed multiple times in the past six months. This leaves people confused and even several private hospitals are also disinterested in participating in the drive due to complex procurement policies,” said Dr RS Sethi, former national vice-president, Indian Medial Association.
Of the over 6,00,000 doses administered in Chandigarh since the commencement of the vaccination drive in January, private hospitals account for around 52,000 (or 9%) doses, data available with the UT health department shows.
City’s immunisation officer Dr Manjeet Singh said, “People are preferring government facilities over private ones as vaccine is free and easily available. But those who can afford the paid vaccines must take the jab from private hospitals as they have enough doses.”