A government Covid vaccination centre closed due to non-availability of doses in Jalandhar on Saturday. (ANI)
A government Covid vaccination centre closed due to non-availability of doses in Jalandhar on Saturday. (ANI)

Vaccine shortage: Punjab’s pvt hospitals in talks with makers to procure doses

Only 2 private hospitals in Punjab — Mohali’s Max and Fortis — are administering vaccine to eligible beneficiaries
By Mandeep Kaur Narula
PUBLISHED ON MAY 16, 2021 01:07 AM IST

Amid shortage of Covid-19 vaccines in the government sector, private hospitals in Punjab are trying to procure jabs from manufactures to boost the inoculation drive.

The move comes after the new vaccination policy of the central government, which came into effect on May 1, allowing states and the private hospitals to directly procure 50% of India-made vaccines from the makers.

According to the Punjab health department, at least eight private hospitals across the state have already approached manufacturers, including the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, to place purchase orders for Covishield and Covaxin vaccines.

At present, only two private hospitals chains in Punjab — Max Super Specialty Hospital, and Fortis Hospital, both in Mohali — have procured vaccines and are administering it to beneficiaries, including people in the age group of 18-44 years, who are yet to get jabs at government facilities. Though the government has started vaccination in this age group, it is initially administering doses to kin of industrial and health workers.

Of the 30 lakh Covishield vaccines ordered by the Punjab government for the 18-44 age group, the state has so far received only 1 lakh doses.

“Many private hospitals in Punjab have shown their interest in joining the government in the inoculation drive. Eight private hospitals have already started talks with the vaccine manufacturers and they will soon place the order. Due to vaccine shortage, private hospitals may get the vaccine stock a bit late,” said Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, state nodal officer for Covid-19, adding that due to non-availability of vaccine in private hospitals, the state’s vaccination drive has been hampered amid the second wave of pandemic.

Dr Bhaskar further said: “Though the vaccine in private hospitals is paid as compared to free inoculation in government centres, people are coming forward to avail the facility. In the past week, private hospitals (Max hospital and Fortis hospital) have administered the first dose to 4,512 beneficiaries and second dose to 371 beneficiaries and the numbers will improve with more private hospitals joining the drive.”

Punjab chief secretary Vini Mahajan has also urged people to book vaccination appointments at the two private hospitals. “Max and Fortis hospitals have procured vaccines and have begun vaccinating 18-44 age group beneficiaries. Max is charging 900 for Covishield and Fortis 1,250 for Covaxin (per dose). Please register on CoWin Portal to book a slot at these hospitals,” she tweeted.

“Since the manufacturers are unable to supply vaccines demanded by the state governments in large quantities, not many private hospitals are trying to procure the stock. The eight private hospitals, which are trying to buy vaccines, have not got any confirmation from the companies yet. Also, placing a purchase order requires a huge investment and not many people will agree to take a single dose at such a high price. More private hospitals will make efforts to procure vaccines once easily available,” said the director of an Amritsar-based private hospital.

“Some 15 private hospitals are willing to join the drive but due to vaccine shortage, not many of them tried to place orders as of now. Our association is also trying to buy vaccines to join the government’s efforts in containing the Covid-19 spread,” said president, Indian Medical Association, Punjab, Dr KD Singh.

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