BENGALURU: Private and public hospitals have mixed views on opening up the Covid vaccine process to those with comorbidities and general public to avoid wastage. Earlier this month, the state health and family welfare department had announced that 6 per cent of Covid doses had been wasted as many beneficiaries did not turn up to take the vaccines. Heads of private hospitals want the government to allow the public to take the jab, which saves time and reduces wastage. But public health professionals say this will disrupt other health services and also lead to vaccine misuse.
Private hospitals are reporting anywhere between 5 and 8 per cent of wastage as a vial once opened cannot be used after four hours. Each Covishield vial contains 10 doses, while a Covaxin vial has 20 jabs. Doses that are not administered go waste. The doctors said that for smooth functioning of the programme, the government should consider administering the vaccine to the public.
Dr Naresh Shetty, president, Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, said, “The public coming to our hospital have been asking us when will they get the vaccines. The government should follow the United States, where common people are given the vaccines that are left, instead of letting it go waste. The government can focus on preparing a database of the public and vulnerable populations and give it to hospitals. If respective beneficiaries do not turn up, hospitals can call the public from the list and give them the vaccines. This will also save time.”
Dr Prasanna HM, president, Private Hospital and Nursing Homes Association, said that the association will write to the government asking it to allow administration of vaccines to at least those who are willing to take it. “There have been reports of unused vaccines being discarded as the requisite number of healthcare workers did not turn up. A better option would be to use them to vaccinate the willing public.”
However, medicos from the public health sector say opening up the vaccination drive is not a good idea.
“If we include lakhs of other people, apart from corona warriors, our regular health facilities of OPD and IPD services will be affected. There are no guidelines issued on how to vaccinate the public. Big hospitals such as Jayadeva and Kidwai are not vaccinating people and the burden is on smaller, general hospitals like ours,” said a doctor from Sir CV Raman General Hospital.
Guidelines on charging the public and the price have not been announced by the state or central government. Karnataka has also not made public its list of comorbid and other vulnerable people. “Worldwide, the rules are to dispose of any kind of vaccine once opened. However, private hospitals store it in cold conditions and use it later, as it is a business for them,” he added.
BR Venkateshaiah, Medical Superintendent, KC General Hospital, said, “There is no other solution to wastage. If we start vaccinating the public and those with comorbidities, it could lead to misuse,
issues with reporting etc. Our regular health services will also be affected, as more staff would be diverted for Covid vaccine camps.”