NEW DELHI: The Covid-19 booster dose vaccination drive got off to a slow start in Delhi on Sunday. Several hospitals did not administer the dose. They are expected to start on Monday. According to an official of the Delhi health department, 84 sessions of vaccination in 54 private hospitals/nursing homes were conducted on the first day and a total of 481 booster shots were given till 7.30 pm. Other than these, 155 received the first dose and 1,781 were given the second.
An official working with the health department of Delhi government stated that the response was not as good as expected. “Because of Ram Navami and confusion over vaccine prices, the response was not good. Vaccination is expected to pick up in the coming days in private hospitals when beneficiaries come to know about the new rates for the two types of vaccines.
Also, the 18 to 60 precaution dose is given only in private vaccination centres for beneficiaries who have completed nine months after the second dose,” the official added. Delhi has around 10 lakh eligible beneficiaries in this age group for precaution doses.
Many private hospitals did not start the booster dose programme due to the slashed vaccine prices and decided to begin the drive from Monday. According to some of these hospitals, the stock they currently have was purchased at the previously approved price and they will resume vaccination after getting a clarification from the government.
On Saturday, Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India reduced vaccine prices and stated that they would be made available to private hospitals for `225, down from `600 for Covishield and `1,200 for Covaxin.
A total of seven Delhi hospitals conducted the drive on Sunday — Fortis, Aakash Hospital, Indian Spinal Injury Center, Star Imaging Path Lab, Manipal Hospital, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute.
According to 22-year-old Divyanshu Verma, who got vaccinated at Aakash Hospital, the process was smooth. “I got the booster jab and everything went smoothly. I am happy that the government has started the initiative.” Authorities at the Apollo Hospital said they would begin administering the booster dose for beneficiaries above 18 from April 11.