The central government has roped in 20,000 private hospitals for the next round of COVID-19 vaccination programme. Those who opts for COVID-19 vaccination in the private clinics, will have to pay for their doses, union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday. “While the vaccine will be given for free at government centres, it will be available for a charge, to be decided later, at many private hospitals,” the minister said.
The amount they would need to pay will be decided by the health ministry within 3-4 days as they are in discussion with manufacturers and hospitals, Javadekar added.
Those who are above 60 years age will receive coronavirus vaccine, starting from 1 March. People above 45 years of age with comorbidities will also be eligible for the vaccination during the next phase.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be available free of cost at 10,000 government centres, the minister added.
India earlier granted emergency use authorisation to two COVID-19 vaccines — Pune-based Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Ltd’s Covaxin which are being used in the government’s vaccination drive.
The country started the first phase of nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme in January. Frontline workers and healthcare workers were the first to receive COVID-19 jabs. The list includes health workers, both from government and private institutions, along with sanitation workers, other frontline workers, defence forces, police and other paramilitary forces.
The expenditure was borne by the government, the minister said.
Two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given at an interval of 28 days. The effectiveness of the vaccine will start only after 14 days of receiving the second dose, the health secretary said earlier.
Till now, there is no option to choose which coronavirus vaccine you want to receive. The health secretary Rajesh Bhusan earlier said, “In no country where vaccination has started, people don’t have a choice on which vaccine to take.”
On safety, Covishield and Covaxin are thesafest of the vaccines, said Dr VK Paul, member of Niti Aayog. “We should have no doubt that the two vaccines approved are the safest of the vaccines,” Paul added. “Both the vaccines have been tested on thousands of people and side-effects are negligible. There is no risk of any significance,” he mentioned.
Serum Institute of India said that they would be supplying 1.1 crore doses to the central government at a fixed price of ₹200 per dose. Similarly, the first 55 lakh doses of Covaxin, procured by the government from Bharat Biotech, would cost ₹206 per dose.
The COVID-19 vaccination will be voluntary, the health ministry earlier stated.