Rajat Sharma

Involvement of private sector in Covid vaccination is a welcome step

AKBGood news for all senior citizens. From March 1 onwards, all Indians above 60 years of age and those above 45 years with co-morbidities, will be given Covid-19 doses. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday decided to allow vaccination for these age groups in the next round of vaccination for which nearly 20,000 private and about 10,000 government hospitals have been listed.
Covid doses will be given free in government hospitals, while Covishield developed by AstraZeneca may cost Rs 300-400 in private hospitals. Cost of Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech may cost a little more. Those undergoing vaccination will not have the option to select the vaccine brand.
There will be options other than CoWIN app to register for vaccination. Hospitals will also have a provision for non-registered beneficiaries in view of the fact that many elderly people may not have access to smartphones or apps. They can register their names through web interface, Aarogya Setu or Common Service Centres.
Each vaccination session site will have reserved and unreserved slots. People can schedule appointments for a reserved slot, but the possibility of walk-in, depending on vacant slots, is also being considered.
There are 27 crore Indians in the 60-plus age group. To get themselves registered, they will first have to download CoWIN app 2.0. It will be a self-registration process. The person will have to submit either Aadhar or Voter Identity Card for age verification. If the voter age is not updated in voter identity card, one has to obtain age verification from the District Magistrate office.

Co-morbidities for those above 45 years of age will include serious diseases related to kidney, cancer, heart, diabetes and hypertension. For those living outside their state, they will be given option to get themselves vaccinated at a centre outside the state. For example, a voter in Delhi presently working in Bengaluru can opt for a vaccination centre there.

First priority for vaccination will be given to all those above the age of 60 years. The second priority category will be for those above 45 years of age having serious co-morbidities. The Health Ministry is preparing guidelines to define cases of serious co-morbidities.
Those willing to pay for vaccines in private hospitals can schedule shots. The health ministry is finalizing the prices of Covid vaccines through discussions with manufacturers and private hospitals. The prices will be announced in the next two or three days.

India is presently No.1 in the field of Covid vaccination. More than 1.23 crore Indians have been vaccinated till now. This was not an easy task given the facts that our health sector infrastructure is not strong and baseless rumours are still being spread about Covid-19 vaccines among people who easily believe in such lies. People have seen how small countries are clamouring for Covid vaccines. Till now, India has sent 2.25 crore Covid vaccines to 20 countries. This very fact itself nails all baseless rumours about the vaccines.
The government has also decided to involve private sector hospitals in this endeavour. This raises hopes about the speedy pace of vaccination in the weeks to come.

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