Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)
Revised policy prioritises health care, frontline workers for shots
The free doses will be allocated based on criteria such as population, disease burden and progress of vaccination
Even as the Centre has revised its Covid-19 vaccination policy to provide doses free to states, it has advised them to prioritise the free vaccines for healthcare workers, followed by frontline workers, citizens above 45, and those above 18 whose second dose is due, according to the revised guidelines for implementation of the national inoculation programme for the disease.
The free doses will be allocated based on criteria such as population, disease burden and the progress of vaccination, they added. “Wastage of vaccine will affect the allocation negatively,” the guidelines say.
The guidelines also encourage the use of non-transferable electronic vouchers that can be redeemed at private vaccination centres.
This is being done to enable people to financially support the vaccination of economically weaker sections at private vaccination centres. HT has accessed the guidelines.
“Within the population group of citizens more than 18 years of age, States/uts (Union territodistrict ries) may decide their own prioritization factoring in the vaccine supply schedule.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced that the Centre was taking back the responsibility for procuring vaccines and distributing them to states.
The move came in response to growing demands from the states, sharp criticism by the Supreme Court amid increasing concerns that supply shortages and the insistence of foreign vaccine makers that they would only deal with the Centre could derail the vaccine drive.
The Centre will continue to allow private hospitals to buy up to 25% of vaccines made in India, although it has capped the service charge, they can levy on these at ₹150 a dose.
It will bear the cost of vaccinating everyone over 18, the population currently eligible for vaccines.
As per the guidelines, the Centre will provide states and Union territories advance information of vaccine doses to be supplied to them and they will have the flexibility to further allocate doses in advance to districts and vaccination centres.
The states have been advised to put information in the public domain about the availability at and vaccination centre level, and widely disseminate it among the local population.
To incentivise production by vaccine manufacturers and encourage new vaccines, domestic manufacturers have been given the option to also provide vaccines directly to private hospitals.
“This would be restricted to 25% of their monthly production. States/uts would aggregate the demand of private hospitals keeping in view equitable distribution between large and small private hospitals and regional balance. Based on this aggregated demand, the Government of India will facilitate the supply of these vaccines to the private hospitals and their payment through the National Health Authority’s electronic platform. This would enable the smaller and remoter private hospitals to obtain a timely supply of vaccines, and further equitable access and regional balance,” the guidelines say.
Each vaccine manufacturer will declare the price of vaccine doses for private hospitals, and any subsequent changes would be notified in advance.
State governments have been directed to monitor the amount that private hospitals are charging. While all citizens irrespective of their income status are entitled to free vaccination, the government encourages those with the ability to pay to use private hospital’s vaccination centres.
The revised guidelines will come into effect from June 21 and will be open to review.