Private hospitals in Kerala in the dark about COVID-19 vaccination

People wait their turn to get vaccinated for COVID-19 at General Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. File   | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

Government hospitals in Kerala will have to handle COVID-19 vaccination alone for at least another couple of months. Those in the private sector have not had any vaccine stock for weeks now and manufactures have told them that direct procurement may take around six months.

According to Sheba Jacob, joint secretary, Kerala Private Hospitals’ Association (KPHA), many private healthcare firms have already paid money to the manufacturers to get the vaccine. “A large majority of private hospitals had stopped vaccination in April itself when the shortage was reported. They exhausted the stock by April-end or May first week. When the Centre modified norms to allow private hospitals to directly procure the doses, some of our members had approached Serum Institute of India for Covishield. They were told to wait for six months,” she said.

Ms. Jacob said that though the KPHA members later approached the State government to get the vaccine, there was no clear response.

The manufacturers are now learnt to be meeting only those pre-booked orders from the government. With the demand for vaccines going up in the wake of the second wave of the infection, new orders are put on hold. Sources said that import of vaccines would also take time because it will require an approval from the Centre and cold storage facilities.

Apollo Adlux Hospital, Angamaly, Ernakulam, has reportedly begun the vaccination drive again. The institution is part of the Apollo Hospitals group, which bought Covaxin doses directly from Bharat Biotech.

Meanwhile, KPHA functionaries indicated that the vaccination charge might not have to be hiked. Private hospitals had been charging ₹250 per person, with ₹100 marked as service charge. Ms. Jacob claimed that at least some members were willing to waive off the service charge now. “Our members have realised that the effort should be to vaccinate maximum number of people, especially those in the 18-45 age group who are more vulnerable to the infection,” she added.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 7:57:27 AM |

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