Covid-19: Private vaccine prices capped at ₹250 a shot
Private hospitals vaccinating people against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) will be allowed to charge up to ₹250 per dose, the Centre said on Saturday, two days before the next leg of India’s vaccination drive, with the Union health ministry detailing the comorbid conditions that will be considered while immunising people.
Members of the general public eligible for the next phase beginning March 1 can walk up to a vaccination centre to be registered for a dose, the Union government has said, while outlining new guidelines and features being included in the Co-WIN platform. The decision will allow anyone above the age of 60 and those older than 45 but with illnesses that make them more vulnerable to Covid-19 to approach government and private hospitals for shots.
Two vaccines that are currently approved for use – Covishield and Covaxin – will be provided by the government to public and private sector hospitals, a health ministry official said on condition of anonymity. The vaccines will be administered for free at the government centres.
“Private hospitals functioning as Covid Vaccination Centres (CVC) can charge subject to a ceiling of ₹250 per person per dose along with the electronic and financial management mechanism in this regard,” a statement by the Union health ministry said. The states have been asked to provide login credentials to private centres on the updated Co-WIN platform. The Co-WIN platform is a digital platform being used to run the vaccination drive, and anyone who needs to get a dose must be registered on it.
The immunisation drive across the country was halted for Saturday and Sunday to move to the new platform that will allow self-registration of recipients.
The Centre released a template for the certificate that people with comorbidities will have to get from a registered medical practitioner to be eligible for the vaccination. The doctor will have to sign the certificate that mentions the name of the recipient, their age, gender, address, and mobile number, along with the identification document presented by them. The form mentions 20 comorbidities in an attached check-list.
People between the ages of 45 and 59 who have any of the 20 comorbidities will qualify for a shot. The conditions include congenital heart disease that leads to pulmonary arterial hypertension, end-stage kidney disease, or cancers such as lymphoma, leukaemia and myloma, decompensated liver cirrhosis (deterioration of liver function due to scarring), primary immune deficiency conditions, and sickle cell anaemia.
The nationwide vaccination drive was launched on January 16, with the government focusing on immunising 30 million health care and frontline workers in the first leg. In the second phase, it plans to vaccinate about 270 million people who are over the age of 60 or are aged at least 45 years and have comorbid conditions.
Since the drive began last month, over 15 million doses have been administered across the country. But the coverage has been lower than expected, with only 48 people turning up on average for every 100 people expected for each session, according to government data.
“The current 313 vaccination [in Delhi] sites will continue to function as is. The clarity on which other hospitals will be added to the list and whether or not they will charge people will be taken after a meeting with private hospitals tomorrow [Sunday],” a senior official from Delhi’s health department said on condition of anonymity.
All 10,000 hospitals empanelled under the Ayushman Bharat scheme will be involved in the second phase of the vaccination drive to immunise an estimated 270 million people over the age of 60 years or those living with severe comorbidities.
Nearly 600 hospitals empanelled under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and other private hospitals empanelled in any state government insurance schemes will also be involved in the next phase of the vaccination drive.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Saturday interacted with health secretaries and MDs (National Health Mission) of all states and Union territories on the vaccination of age-appropriate groups.
“This nationwide vaccination programme is now to be exponentially expanded to the following age-groups from 1st March, 2021: i) all citizens above 60 years of age, and ii) those within the age bracket of 45 to 59 years with specified co-morbidities,” a government statement said on Saturday.
At the meeting, the states were asked to map all private facilities with the nearest cold chain points to ensure a seamless flow of vaccines to them.
Specific dates for Covid-19 vaccination will soon be decided where target groups of potential beneficiates will be vaccinated.