Pvt centres can take ‘service charge’ up to Rs 100 per vaccination: Sources

The private facilities will be able to collect a “service charge” of up to Rs 100 from the beneficiaries to meet the operational expenses they will be incurring during the vaccination drive against Covid-19. This will be in addition to the cost of the vaccines, government sources told IANS on Friday.

The decision was taken at a meeting held on Friday evening after taking inputs from the major private healthcare brands, the sources added.

“Whatever is the cost the vaccine provided to them, they (private facilities) will have a band of Rs 100 to incur the operational cost of the vaccines which includes syringes, needles, manpower etc.,” sources told IANS, adding that the government has clarified that the private centres will not be allowed to charge more than Rs 100 (plus cost of the dose) from the beneficiaries.

The sources also added that the vaccines will be provided to the private vaccination centres by the government itself. The private hospitals can also avail vaccines from the public hospitals having cold storage facilities.

Meanwhile, the sources said that deliberations regarding fixing the cost on which the government would provide vaccines to the private healthcare facilities are still on. “It will be decided shortly. The stakeholders will be informed may be by tonight or by the morning,” the sources added.

While there is no official word from the government yet, officials said that the rate is being fixed at a reasonable price.

“The government is looking to fix the judicious cost of the vaccines,” said Suneela Garg, public health expert and member of the government task force for Covid vaccination.

The sources suggested that a single dose is expected to cost below Rs 600.

The sources also said that one challenge the government is facing is coming to an even price for both the Covid vaccines being used in the vaccination drive.

“Covaxin costs a bit higher, while Covishield is cheaper and more widely available than the former. The government is bothered by the possibility that one vaccine being at a higher price may discourage the beneficiaries from taking it,” a senior official said.

However, the beneficiaries will not have a choice over the vaccines.

Gajendra Pal Singh, member of the expert committee on vaccine administration, said, “The private facilities will have to show their intent first. After the approval, they will be able to receive vaccine doses,” he said.

He also said that the beneficiaries will not have a choice over the two vaccines. “They will have to take the vaccine as per its availability at the vaccination centre. If a centre has Covaxin, the beneficiary will be provided that vaccine only,” he said.

However, the beneficiaries can choose which centre they wish to go to for vaccination in their respective city, Singh added.

Meanwhile, the Centre has formed four mandatory pre-requisites for the private healthcare facilities willing to start vaccination centres:

i) They must have adequate space for the vaccination process, as detailed in the comprehensive SOPs issued by the Ministry

ii) They must have basic cold chain equipments for storing the vaccine vials

iii) They must have their own team of vaccinators and staff

iv) They must have adequate facility for management of any AEFI cases

Meanwhile, the beneficiaries will get three modes for registering for the vaccination drive: Advance self-registration through CoWIN 2.0 or Aarogya Setu; walk-in registration at vaccination sites; and facilitated vaccination where the state/UT government will reach out to the beneficiaries through ASHAs, ANMs, Panchayati Raj representatives and women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs), as per the information released by the government.

Registration by CoWIN or Aarogya Setu will show the beneficiaries government and private hospitals serving as Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs) with date and time of the available schedules. The beneficiary would be able to choose the CVC of his/her choice and book an appointment for vaccination.

The third phase of vaccination against Covid-19 pandemic will begin from March 1 and will cover 27 crore of people above 60 years of age and those above 45 years of age with comorbidities at 10,000 government and over 20,000 private vaccination centres.

While people will be vaccinated free of cost at the government hospitals, those taking the shots at private hospitals will have to pay.