COVID-19: Private Hospitals Unable to Place New Vaccine Orders as Centre’s New Norms Go Into Effect

COVID-19: Private Hospitals Unable to Place New Vaccine Orders as Centre’s New Norms Go Into Effect

As the Union Health Ministry’s guidelines went into effect on June 7, private hospitals that conduct COVID-19 vaccinations in Mumbai are unable to place new orders from vaccine manufacturers. 

The guidelines state that individual states would “aggregate the demand of private hospitals keeping in view equitable distribution between large and small private hospitals and regional balance.”

The manufacturer of the Covishield vaccine, Serum Institute of India, confirmed the development adding that no new orders were being accepted from private hospitals since the 7th of June. 

There seems to be some confusion about what the Maharashtra Government can do about this. While one official said that the state’s role is optional, a senior health official said while speaking to TOI that the Union Government is yet to make a decision on allowing states to be the facilitator of vaccines for private hospitals. 

The National Health Mission Director, N Ramaswami said, “A few states had said they wouldn’t be able to monitor the private sector and wanted a centralised procurement and distribution system, but we are expecting a clearer directive in the coming week.”

The Maharashtra Government is reportedly going to add a nodal officer who will monitor the pricing and the procurement by private hospitals across the state. 

“The price of the vaccines has been decided. The quota for the private sector has been fixed at 25%. The service charge for private hospitals has been fixed at Rs 150. The state has to monitor that all the rules are being followed,” a doctor from the Public Health Department was quoted as saying. 

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The lack of clarity could impact some private hospitals in Mumbai as they play a key role in vaccinations across the city. This is pertinent since public or state/civic-run institutions are somewhat behind in terms of vaccinations

Of the 53,427 vaccines administered across the city on June 11, around 70 per cent were provided by private institutions. It’s also worth noting that several major private hospitals have stocks to last at least another month. 

“We have stocks to last us until July 15 or more,” said Joy Chakraborthy, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Mahim’s Hinduja Hospital.

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