The first day of the rollout of Covid-19 ‘precaution’ doses for adults saw 9,496 jabs administered on Sunday, according to reports. The CoWin dashboard showed that that approximately 850 private sites had made the third dose of vaccine available to public.
People over the age of 18 who received the second dose at least nine months ago are eligible for a third dose of the same vaccine in private hospitals. The majority of hospitals intend to begin the booster plan on Monday. Experts had earlier predicted that the 9-month time gap, coupled with the varying pace of vaccination across the country may lead to a slow precaution dose demand, initially.
“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government is taking various steps to defeat Covid. Taking one more step, administration of Covid precaution dose has started,” Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya posted on twitter in Hindi.
A day before the commencement of precaution dose for all, India’s two major vaccine manufacturers – Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech announced major slashed vaccine prices for private hospitals. India’s two major Covid vaccines of national vaccination programme – Covishield and Covaxin- have been made available for Rs 225 per dose at private hospitals.
The private Covid Vaccination Centres can charge only up to a maximum of INR 150 as service charge for precaution dose over and above the cost of vaccine.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in guidelines to states on Saturday that the private centres should declare the price per dose that they would charge on Co-WIN, in accordance to the prices declared by the manufacturers.
The Co-WIN system would send SMS alerts to all citizens who would be eligible for their third shots based on the earlier vaccination details in their digital records.
As per the guidelines, the booster shots will be given at private hospitals against payment, while the priority groups of healthcare workers, frontline workers, and individuals above the age of 60 will get their third dose for free at the government vaccination centres.
Sluggish Pace in Delhi
Administering of precaution dose of COVID-19 vaccines began in Delhi on Sunday amid a steady rise in daily case count in the last few days here, even as the pace was sluggish with a few private vaccination centres starting the exercise.
While Fortis Healthcare group has started administering the dose, Apollo Hospital had said on Saturday that it would begin vaccinating people from April 11. Authorities running other big Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs), like those at Max Healthcare, said they are expected to begin from Monday.
Earlier in the day, Fortis Healthcare officials had said that it is likely to begin vaccinating people from Monday, but later in the evening, a senior official of the group said, “We have started administering the precaution dose at our centres in Delhi-NCR.”
Authorities at Manipal Hospital and Star Imaging and Path Labs, confirmed that they had started the precaution dose roll-out on Sunday. “Yes, we began the administering of the booster dose from this morning. About 60 beneficiaries have already received it, most of whom came through walk-in procedure. About 130 had registered by afternoon,” Director Star Imaging and Path Labs Dr Samir Bhati said.
“Most of the beneficiaries were those people who have to travel abroad, and it was largely a young population segment. There were a few elderly too, who had co-morbidities, but largely youths came on day one,” he told PTI.
The doctor said that it has been a rather slow star to the exercise, with CVCs run by large private heathcare groups not starting administration of the dose on Sunday, and revision of dose pricing by vaccine makers, could be a factor. Bhati also emphasised that daily cases in Delhi have been showing a rise in the last few days and there is a threat of a new variant too.
With inputs from PTI, IANS