NEW DELHI: Delhi and Bihar, which have started administering free Covid precaution doses for the 18-59 year age group, have to reimburse the National Health Authority for using the available stock of jabs provided by the Union government for the purpose, official sources said Friday.
Following requests from these two states, the Union Health Ministry has made a provision on the CoWIN portal for creating sessions to administer the precaution doses at government COVID vaccination centres, they said.
They had sought permission from the ministry to use the available stock of COVID vaccine as precaution dose in government vaccination centres free of cost, saying they would reimburse or replenish the stock upon procurement.
"The Union Health Ministry has agreed to their proposal...But they shall reimburse the cost of the vaccine used for the purpose to the National Health Authority," an official source said. The Union government had announced that the precaution dose of anti-COVID19 vaccines will be available to everyone aged above 18 years at the private vaccination centres beginning April 10.
The Delhi government had written to the Union Health Ministry, saying that the uptake of precaution doses at private COVID vaccination centres (CVCs) was not very promising.
Delhi government's Principal Secretary, Health, Manisha Saxena had said that to promote the uptake of precaution dose among the 18-59 years age group, the Government of NCT Delhi intends to administer precaution dose for this group in all government CVCs free of cost.
"In order to give the benefit of precaution dose to all eligible beneficiaries in Delhi, the same will be available for 18 to 59 years age group, free of cost in all government CVCs from April 21," the Delhi health department said in an order.
Both online appointments and walk-in facility will be available, it added.
Bihar's Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Pratyaya Amrit, had told the Centre, "As the procurement of vaccines may take a few days, we request you to kindly allow the administration of the current stock of vaccines as precaution dose to 18 to 59 years age group which would be later replenished upon procurement by the state."
Vaccine majors Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech have decided to cut prices of the precaution dose of their respective COVID-19 vaccines to Rs 225 per shot for private hospitals after discussion with the government.
The Centre had told the states that the precaution dose will be of the same COVID-19 vaccine like the one used for the administration of the first two doses and that private vaccination centres can charge up to a maximum of Rs 150 per dose as a service charge over and above the cost of the vaccine.