Private hospitals account for 74% of vaccines given on Day 2 of drive
With the Covid-19 vaccination drive being extended to senior citizens and those aged over 45 years with comorbidities, inoculation centres in private hospitals across Delhi are seeing more rush than government facilities. Private hospitals charge up to ₹250 per shot while the vaccines are administered for free at government sites.
Of the 11,655 such persons who received the jab on Tuesday, 74% went to centres in private hospitals, according to government data. The government hospitals immunised 3,063 such persons on Tuesday.
Officials said this could also be because a majority of vaccination sites in the national capital are in private hospitals — of the 308 vaccination sites in Delhi, 136 are in private hospitals while only 56 are in government hospitals.
“Many elderly people choose to go to private hospitals because they think they will get better services there. They worry that queues would be longer in government hospitals, but that is not the case. The whole point of online registrations is to ensure that there aren’t too many people at any given site,” said a senior district official, requesting anonymity.
Many senior citizens were seen gathered outside the vaccination centres in private hospitals even after 5pm.
At Max Hospital in Saket, a group of senior citizens was seen banging on the doors of the vaccination centre, insisting that they be inoculated even though the hospital had closed the drive for the day.
“We came here around 3pm but were told that due to the rush, our turn won’t come before 5pm. Now when we have returned at 5pm, they have closed the doors,” said Anita Kapur, 65, who had come from Noida to get the shot.
An official at the hospital said the rush was unprecedented over the past two days. As many as 490 persons were vaccinated at the hospital on Tuesday.
“We could have covered over 600 persons had the Co-WIN app been working properly. We had to manually enter the data of persons throughout the day since the server was down,” the official said.
At Jasola’s Apollo Hospitals, 280 persons were vaccinated on Tuesday. Among them was Vinod Chawala, 74, who said he chose a private hospital because of the hassle-free process. “I had registered on the app on Monday and got an appointment for Tuesday. Besides, the vaccine charges are affordable. Had it been too expensive in private hospitals, I would have chosen a government facility to avail of a free shot,” he said.
Some senior citizens said the government needs to create more awareness about the vaccine availability in public hospitals. “A major reason why people are choosing private hospitals is because they are not confident about the safety of the vaccine available in government facilities. They don’t know if vaccines at both sites are equally safe. The government needs to create more awareness about this; otherwise, beneficiaries will continue to throng private hospitals,” said Abha Sardana, 70, who took her first vaccine shot at Apollo Hospitals.
In comparison, there were around 40 people waiting to get the shot outside the five vaccination sites at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at 4.30pm. All of them were in the waiting area, maintaining proper social distancing in the spacious area arranged for recipients on the eighth floor of the new OPD building.
“There was some rush around midday. Even then, it just takes about 1 hour – including the 30-minute waiting time – for a person to get done with. When there is no rush, it takes barely 40 minutes. With the new OPD block, we are able to ensure that social distancing is maintained even during peak hours,” said a nursing orderly on duty at one of the sites, who did not want to be named.
Around 100 elderly and comorbid persons were immunised at the five sites on Tuesday.
Across the road, at Safdarjung Hospital, too, the vaccination site seemed relatively empty. Most of the persons were at the centre were either hospital or government employees.
“We are getting more health-care and front-line workers in government hospitals because they do not want to pay for the jabs. Now that the drive for them is over, they are not given priority,” said a senior district official, on condition of anonymity.