Updated: May 28, 2021 7:36:28 am
Private health facilities in Karnataka urged the state government to allow a hike in service charges for inoculating people with Covid-19 vaccines.
The Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association wants the service charge to be increased from Rs 100 to Rs 300, citing “huge expenses” required towards investing for cold chain, storage and logistical needs among others.
In letters addressed to the Covid task force and to the Additional Chief Secretary (Health), doctors stated that direct procurement of vaccines from manufacturers itself costs nearly four to eight times more than what was being paid to the government to get the jabs.
“This means that the private sector needs to invest huge amounts of money to get the doses. Each hospital also needs to spend money on cold chain logistics, safe storage and pilferage protection,” the letter read.
The association’s president, Dr Prasanna H M, said that setting up on-site vaccination booths also add to the cost as a large number of people are expected to be vaccinated in a short period of time with extended vaccination timings in place.
“As this phase, vaccination takes place when there are a significant number of Covid-positive patients in the community, the front-end personnel require proper PPE which again adds to expenses. Considering these factors, charging only ₹100 per dose would not suffice as the costs involved itself will cross ₹250 per dose,” he added.
Earlier this month, Karnataka was among the first states to announce vaccination for the 18-44 age group.
Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar had then announced that vaccines will be provided at district hospitals, government medical colleges and taluk-level hospitals across the state, from May 10.
However, a couple of days later, the government announced a temporary suspension of the drive for the age group, clarifying that the available stock was being used to inoculate persons above 45 years of age waiting for their second dose.
However, private hospitals — mostly those part of major chains with branches across cities and other states — had continued the drive with the stock of vaccines they managed to procure directly from manufacturers.
Later, as reports of overpricing for each dose emerged, the government capped the service charge at ₹100 for each dose. “The fixed price at private hospitals will be ₹600 plus service charge of ₹100 for Covishield, and ₹1,200 plus service charge of ₹100 for Covaxin,” Minister Sudhakar had announced.
To date, Karnataka has vaccinated over 1.25 crore people across age and priority groups. While over 98.93 lakh doses of these were administered as first doses, over 26.48 lakh were second doses.
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