The Government has allowed private hospitals in the State to provide vaccination facility 24x7 if they get sufficient number of registrations and have the infrastructure to run the campaign throughout the day and night, officials heading the immunization programme said on Saturday.
“The MD of National Health Mission (NHM) has issued a letter to all the private hospitals stating that they can administer vaccines to senior citizens and middle-agers with comorbid conditions 24x7 if they get sufficient registrations,” said State Immunization Officer, Dr. Ajit Prasad.
The decision, he added, has been taken to speed up the vaccination process in the state and ensure that registered beneficiaries can get the jab at any time depending on their convenience.
At present, only eight of the over 450 private hospitals empanelled for the immunization programme have started vaccinating beneficiaries against the Covid-19 virus. In Ranchi, only two private hospitals – Raj Hospital and Bhagwan Mahavir Medica Superspecialty Hospital – have started vaccinating senior citizens and people above the age of 45 years who suffered from comorbid conditions since March 1. These two hospitals have so far inoculated more than 1500 people, hospital authorities said.
Private hospitals, as per government’s latest decision, cannot charge more than Rs.250 for each jab of the vaccine. The vaccine jabs are, however, provided free of cost at government healthcare centres.
However, owners of private hospitals in the State feel that running a vaccination programme 24x7 would help only once vaccination is made open for everyone. The president of Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI) and the owner of Raj Hospital, Yogesh Gambhir said that senior citizens are unlikely to visit hospitals late in the night for vaccination and therefore the move may not help to a great extent.
“I think the government should first address the loopholes in their web portal to ease the registration process. There were days when we could vaccinate only 100 people in a day because of IT issues,” said Gambhir.
He added that running the vaccination programme till 8pm was still feasible as people would bring their parents for vaccination after returning from work. “I doubt people would bring their old parents for vaccination at midnight. We can start 24x7 vaccinations once it is open for everyone,” he added.
As per data compiled by the NHM, as many as 25,249 senior citizens and 2589 middle-agers with comorbid conditions have been administered the first dose of the vaccine in Jharkhand since March 1. The state has also administered the first dose of the vaccine to over 3.37 lakh healthcare workers and frontline workers.