9am-9pm: Window for jabs to be expanded at govt hospitals

By, New Delhi
Mar 19, 2021 07:00 AM IST

Delhi government on Thursday ordered all its hospitals to extend the timings of their centres from Monday.

Keeping vaccination centres open for 12 hours and increasing the number of inoculation sites across the city are two of several measures that the Delhi government said it is taking to increase the number of daily vaccinations from nearly 40,000 now to 125,000.

An elderly couple awaits their turn at a vaccination centre in a Delhi private hospital. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi(REUTERS)
An elderly couple awaits their turn at a vaccination centre in a Delhi private hospital. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi(REUTERS)

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the Centre to relax the eligibility criteria for Covid-19 vaccine jabs, adding that the state government could inoculate all adult residents of Delhi within three months if it were done.

“The number of centres will also be doubled from 500 right now. At present, Covid-19 vaccination centres operate daily from 9am to 5pm, but their timings will be extended to 9am to 9pm daily,” Kejriwal also said at the press conference.

Towards that end, the Delhi government on Thursday also ordered all its hospitals to extend the timings of their centres from Monday. “It is hereby ordered that with effect from 22.03.2021, all Delhi government hospitals will operate vaccination sites functioning on their premises up to at least 9pm. All facilities will ensure deployment of adequate manpower at these sites to ensure proper functioning of vaccination sites. Non-compliance shall be viewed seriously,” read the order from special secretary (health) SM Ali.

In addition, all Delhi government-run hospitals have also been asked to increase the number of vaccination sites on their premises to at least six. Even the Lok Nayak Hospital currently has five vaccination sites while the Rajiv Gandhi superspeciality hospital has four.

One of the vaccination centres at the 2,000-bed Lok Nayak hospital, which was the biggest Covid-19 treatment facility in Delhi, already runs round the clock. But, this is meant only for frontline workers who can get shot once after their shifts end.

“Currently, we get around 30 to 40 people each day after hours at the centre. Now, everyone in the priority group will be allowed to come between 9am and 9pm to get the shots. From Friday, the hospital will start assessing the space needed for the additional centre and the staff strength to keep it open till 9pm,” said a senior administrative official from the hospital.

Increasing Centres

Delhi will start immunisations at all its dispensaries next week. “Inspection of dispensaries is complete and in the next couple of days, all of them will start the vaccine drive — people will have centres closer to their homes,” said a senior district official.

There are around 260 dispensaries run by the Delhi government in the city and they currently operate from 9am to 5pm. “We have to check staff availability and other logistical issues before extending the timings of dispensaries,” the official said.

There are, at present, 550 vaccinations sites — in 208 hospitals and 40 dispensaries — in Delhi, according to the CoWIN portal. Of them, 325 are in government facilities and 225 in private ones.

The government is now looking to bring on board several private sector hospitals as well.

“One round of inspection has been conducted at several small hospitals and they are likely to be added to the centres’ list next week. We have also got requests from private hospitals to keep centres open on Sundays. That is likely to happen soon,” said another senior district official.


    Anonna Dutt is a health reporter at Hindustan Times. She reports on Delhi government’s health policies, hospitals in Delhi, and health-related feature stories.

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