KOCHI: The facilities fear even if they start inoculation drives, people may not turn up because the vaccines are free at govt hospitals .They want the state government to make vaccines available to them free of cost
Ramping up vaccination is going to be key to reduce the impact of the third wave of the pandemic. According to experts, small and private hospitals will play a key role in increasing inoculation coverage in the state. However, a large number of private hospitals are hesitant to kick off vaccination drives fearing poor turnout.
The Centre has allotted a 25 per cent vaccination quota for the private sector but in Kerala, many private hospitals are yet to start Covid vaccination. According to Kerala Private Hospitals Association (KPHA), the high rates for vaccines in private hospitals may discourage the public from approaching them, while the same dose is available free of cost in government hospitals. As per the national statistics, of the 1.71 crore doses allotted to the private sector, only 22 lakh (17%) have been utilised.
Experts opine that vaccination in the private sector should be increased to cover the target population at least in the next three months. Since the launch of vaccination on January 16, Kerala has vaccinated 25.16 per cent of its population as of June 12.
Fear of low demand
Kerala Private Hospital Association (KPHA) has demanded the state government to pay for the private quota and provide vaccines free of cost to the private sector with a service charge of `100-`150. “Livelihoods have been hit and the public cannot afford to pay for two doses. For a family of four, eight doses of vaccine would cost a huge sum. The slow offtake in the private sector runs the risk of Kerala losing a sizable share of the 25% private sector allocation from the Centre,” Dr E K Ramachandran, state treasurer of KPHA.
He said the government has provisioned a budgetary allocation of Rs 1,000 crore and mobilised funds by vaccine challenge to provide free vaccination to the public. The KPHA has submitted a memorandum to the state government to make vaccines available free of cost in the private sector or make them available at subsidised rates of `300-`350 (inclusive of service charges). “The government should optimally utilise the now idle private sector which comprises 60% of the healthcare infrastructure in the state,” Ramachandran added.
Vaccination status (as of June 12)
Total doses administered: 1,11,64,895
First dose given: 89,28,702
Second dose given: 22,36,193
The IMA (Indian Medical Association) has recommended mass vaccination drives with the participation of NGOs and other service organisations to expedite vaccination. According to IMA, vaccination of the maximum population is the only way to prevent an aggressive third wave. Experts are recommending the vaccination of 1.5 lakh to four lakh people per day. “We have submitted a proposal to the state government expressing interest to maximise the reach by conducting mass vaccination drives. The idea is to tie up with NGOs and private service organisations to organise the drives. We will provide the resources for the same,” said IMA state secretary P Gopikumar.