People above the age of 60 and those above 45 with illnesses are set to get easier access to vaccination. After the centre asked states to utilise all private hospitals, including those that are not empanelled under government health insurance schemes, Delhi has added 78 more private hospitals to its vaccination drive in addition to the existing 56. The new centres will start operating in the next two days.
Dr Suneela Garg, Member of COVID-19 India Task Force of Lancet Commission told NDTV, "The Delhi government gave the directive to private hospitals last night. We have now added more private hospitals and it will now be 134 private hospitals in Delhi which will vaccinate. It is crucial to add private hospitals because people should get the jabs as early as possible. From a public health perspective, it is best to vaccinate most people before the extreme summers start."
Private Hospitals have welcomed the move. Anil Vinayak, Group Chief Operating Officer (GCOO) of Fortis Healthcare, told NDTV, "At Fortis Healthcare we welcome this change made by the government. Currently, we were doing 1,000-1,500 vaccinations per day at 11 centres. With effect from today, three more centres have been added. We are in touch with the state authorities and have offered to carry out vaccinations at all 28 of our locations across the country. We do believe that this is the best way to increase vaccination coverage through public-private partnerships. This is the best defence against COVID-19."
So far, 20,000 private hospitals across India have been part of the vaccination drive, the numbers are expected to go up with the new initiative. And soon people will be able to get a jab 24x7, at one's convenience.
The Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan today tweeted saying, "The government has removed time constraint to increasing the speed of vaccination. People can get vaccinated 24x7 at their convenience. Prime Minister Narendra Modi understands the value of both time and health of citizens."
In Maharashtra, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has added 29 more private hospitals as vaccination sites - a huge boost from the only three that had been functioning as vaccination sites.
For extended timings, hospitals are willing but yet to receive fresh directions from the government. Currently, vaccination sites in Maharashtra operate between 9 am to 5 pm.
Dr Varsha Phadke, Dean, KJ Somaiya Hospital &Research Centre said, "We are following all the BMC guidelines and in case they change them then we will follow them accordingly. Our target from Day 1 was a hundred beneficiaries daily and we have already crossed that so we will see now how it increases."