This Article is From Feb 28, 2021

Covid Vaccine Jab Capped At Rs 250 At Private Hospitals: Government

India is preparing to widen coverage beyond the 1.15 crore health and front-line workers immunised since January 16 starting Monday.

India began its coronavirus vaccination drive on January 16.

New Delhi:

Coronavirus vaccines will be capped at Rs 250 per shot at private hospitals and health centres, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. Vaccines will be free in all government hospitals and centres.

The government on Friday had said it will let people choose their coronavirus vaccination centres when the campaign expands Monday to cover those over 60 and those over 45 with illnesses.

They can register through the government's CoWIN 2.0 portal, the Aarogya Setu app, or walk into vaccination centres; states will also actively mobilise people.

There are more than 10,000 private htospitals in the country that are cleared to give out vaccines apart from all government hospitals and health centres.

Those over 60 will have to only show their identification with age while those over 45 with chronic illnesses will have to get a form signed by a registered medical practitioner.

The country has halted vaccinations this weekend to upgrade software used to coordinate its campaign, as it prepares to widen coverage beyond the 1.15 crore health and front-line workers immunised since January 16.

But the inoculation campaign has progressed slower than expected due to a reluctance of health and front-line workers to take the home-grown COVAXIN shot that was approved without late-stage efficacy data.

Only 11 per cent of vaccinated people have opted for the product developed by Bharat Biotech and the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

With the world's highest tally of infections after the United States, India wants to vaccinate 30 of its 135 crore people by August. The decision to give people a choice to choose centres, effectively being allowed to choose vaccines could speed up the roll-out, officials believe.

"The fundamental shift in this phase is that citizens in the identified age groups, as also those healthcare workers and frontline who have been missed out or left out of the present phase of vaccination, can select vaccination centres of their choice," the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement.

Bharat Biotech has said efficacy data from a late-stage trial on nearly 26,000 volunteers who took COVAXIN shot will be out soon. The company, along with India's drug regulator, says COVAXIN is safe and effective, based on early and intermediate studies.

More vaccines are likely to be approved for use in the world's second most populous country in coming months, including Russia's Sputnik-V and Cadila Healthcare's ZyCov-D.

Apart from vaccine hesitancy, initial glitches in CoWIN had also slowed India's immunisation drive, forcing many states offline. The software forms part of a government contact-tracing app "Aarogya Setu", or Health Bridge, downloaded so far by nearly 17 crore people.

India's infections rose 16,488 in the past 24 hours to stand at 1.10 crore, health ministry data shows, while the number of deaths rose 113 to reach 1,56,938.

(With inputs from Reuters)