Drive from May 1: Second-dose beneficiaries to get priority over pvt hospitals, says PMC
Pune: Despite the Centre’s decision, those above the age of 18 years are likely to face hurdles in immediately getting the Covid vaccine dose in Pune from May 1, as the municipal corporation, according to mayor Murlidhar Mohol, may not provide vaccines to private hospitals.
Hospitals have now been empowered to purchase the doses directly from manufacturers.
Mohol, speaking to media on Monday after reviewing preparations for the universal vaccination programme starting from Saturday, said health officials have informed PMC that the Centre is likely to issue guidelines that the civic body need not provide vaccines to private hospitals, because the hospitals have been empowered to purchase the vaccines directly from manufacturers.
“They (health department authorities) have also informed me that maybe a parallel vaccine distribution system could be put in place for which the guidelines could be made. Currently, Pune city has over 73 private hospitals and so if they get the vaccine directly from manufacturers, or the parallel system, then we could have that stock for better distribution at our centres,” said Mohol.
According to the mayor, preference will be given to those slotted for their second dose.
“Even though all above 18 years of age would now be eligible to get the vaccine starting from May 1, we still have a large number of people above the age of 45 years, who are currently eligible and who have not yet got their second dose, including 0.2 million senior citizens. We will prioritise the beneficiaries who are due to get their second dose.”
The city had been leading in vaccinating all above the age group of 45 years who were eligible, until recently, though an irregular supply of vaccines led to a roadblock and the district could not achieve its set target of 0.1 million vaccinations lakh daily.
Both leading Covid vaccine manufacturers – Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India - revealed prices for private hospitals and state governments, with Serum making it clear it may not be able to fulfil requirement of for every state on an immediate basis.
PMC is awaiting guidelines on the universal vaccination drive. PMC commissioner Vikram Kumar said, “We are still awaiting government directions from the Centres on those above 18 years of age vaccination, regarding what quota would be allowed to us and about crowd management too. The guidelines say that only those registered beforehand will be allowed to get the vaccine.”
Dr Sanjay Patil, chairman of the hospital board, IMA Pune chapter, said, “IMA can volunteer and purchase vaccines and then redistribute it to smaller hospitals and its members to decentralise the process. We can also volunteer to vaccinate marginalised groups like mentally or physically challenged people, or even the labour class, if the government can subsidise the cost of those vaccines. However, currently, the biggest challenge is vaccine supply. Today there is no regular supply of the vaccines for the eligible age group.”
Pune city has 217 vaccinations centres. Of these, 15 government centres provide Covaxin, 104 give Covishield. Twenty-five private hospitals give Covaxin and 73 give Covishield.
Pune city has vaccinated about 770,333 as of Sunday and still many more await their second dose. It has been three months since the Centre began vaccinating frontline workers (FLWs) across the country. It started from February 2. However, even as 62,257 FLWs got their first dose, only 21.8% have taken their second dose as per the PMC. Only 17,106 FLWs have taken their second dose while over 57,000 senior citizens have got their second dose. About 74% of the health care workers have got their second dose.