Kerala

Private hospitals bank on Govt. buying back their vaccine stock

Private hospitals in the State, which have unused COVID-19 vaccine stock with them, are looking to the Government now to help them out by buying it back at least at subsidised rates.

During May-July, when the demand for vaccines was huge and the vaccine supply from the Centre was erratic, it was on request from the State Government that many private hospitals stepped in to facilitate the COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Many major private hospitals bought bulk orders directly from the manufacturers. Small and medium hospitals, which found it difficult to purchase vaccine directly because of the stipulation that a fixed minimum order had to be placed, the Government allowed them to place their orders through the Government’s supply network

Unused stock

“When the demand was huge and the Government’s supply was restricted, many hospitals bought between 10,000-20,000 doses paying huge amounts. The expiry period is one year, so there is no issue on that count. But once the vaccine supply issues were sorted out, people naturally flocked to Government vaccination sites. Many small private hospitals now have unused stock — a total of approximately 2-3 lakh doses — whereas major hospitals are managing their stock by taking up vaccinations in corporate houses and firms,” says A.V. Jayakrishnan, chairman, IMA Hospital Board of India.

Though the Kerala State Medical Services Corporation had bought 10 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine for purchase by private hospitals, nearly 9.2 lakh doses were given to the Government hospitals as there were no more takers from the private sector.

The Centre’s COVID-19 vaccine policy was that 75% of the requirement of the State would be met by the Centre free of cost and the remaining 25% would have to be paid vaccination through the private sector.

“It is up to the Government now to act on this policy and to ensure that the stock available with the private sector is utilised properly by subsidising it and prioritising it for the poor. The vaccination campaign had been intense when the Government was pushing everyone to take the first dose. That momentum seems to have been lost now and the second dose uptake is slow and poor,” Dr. Jayakrishnan says.

Health Department officials said that with nearly 96% coverage of the first dose vaccine completed, the daily uptake of first dose had dwindled to 8,000-10,000 doses , while close to two lakh second doses on an average took place daily.

Comfortable

“The State’s vaccine stock position is comfortable and people can walk-in or register ahead for vaccination. But now, strange enough, people are not so keen on completing the second doses on time. When we started out with the first dose, people were jostling at all centres to get the vaccine. Now, health workers in the field have to call and beg people who are overdue for the second dose to take it,” a senior Health official says.

“We feel that people no longer fear COVID-19 or think that it cannot do much harm. The lifting of all restrictions on civil life has given them the feeling that the pandemic is over,” he says.


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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 9:41:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/private-hospitals-bank-on-govt-buying-back-their-vaccine-stock/article37668459.ece

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