Phase 2 of Covid vaccination: People with comorbidities will need medical certificate to get the jab

Private hospitals participating in the Covid-19 vaccination drive for high-risk groups will receive vaccines from the government free of cost and users may have to pay a nominal administrative cost to get vaccinated in these hospitals, government officials said.

Those getting the jabs will not have an option to choose their vaccines, and people with comorbidity will need a medical certificate from a physician before they get vaccinated, said an official who was briefed on the second phase of the vaccination drive starting on March 1.

The government is also revamping the CoWin app, created to manage the inoculation drive, which has been facing some glitches. The new version will provide users an option to get an appointment through the app, or they can walk into the hospital and get registered on the spot, said
this official who attended the video conference organised by the health ministry to brief state governments on the phase-2 rollout process.

State governments have been assured that there are “enough” vaccine supplies to start the rollout to groups beyond the healthcare and frontline workers.

There are currently two vaccines in use in India – Covishield, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine made by of Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.

On Wednesday, the Union cabinet had announced that private hospitals accredited under Ayushman Bharat scheme and Central Government Health Scheme will be roped in to expand the vaccination drive to high-risk groups such as those above the age of 60 and younger people with comorbidities.

Several experts had earlier asked the government to rope in private hospitals to meet its target of vaccinating 30 crore people in the high-risk category.

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The hospitals will have an option to opt out for the vaccination drive if they wish to, officials said.

Private hospitals that ET spoke with said they were still waiting for the fine print from the government on the registration process.

“The government has issued directions at the Centre, but we are waiting for guidelines on charges, supply of vaccines, and opening of CoWin app for registration,” said Gautam Khanna, CEO of PD Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai. “We have already told our team to be prepared, our centre is currently approved by BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) for vaccination of the internal hospital staff, but we are ready to open for the public when government allows it.”

Hospital chain Max Healthcare also said it is waiting for finer details but is prepared.

Azad Moopen, founder chairman of Aster DM Healthcare, said the South India-based hospital chain will work in tandem with government policies and regulations. “We promise that Aster will support the government in successfully conducting the next segment of the Covid-19 vaccination drive,” he told ET.

India’s total vaccination drive as on February 25 was
1.30 crores, though in absolute terms India has vaccinated more than one crore healthcare and frontline workers, the number of vaccines administered per 100 people of its population is still low.

The resurgence of cases in states such as Maharashtra,
Kerala, MP, have raised concerns of a possible new wave. In this context, vaccinating a large number of people is necessary to bring down the infection, experts said.

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