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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Handling charges capped at Rs 150 per jab, Private hospitals mull whether to hold vaccine drives for corporates, housing societies

The Union government has capped handling charges at Rs 150 per vaccine dose over and above procurement cost for private hospitals. This will bring down cost of per Covishield dose to Rs 780, which earlier cost a recipient Rs 800-1,100. Covaxin per dose will now cost Rs 1,410.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
June 9, 2021 1:15:44 am
While hospitals have now sought clarity from the Union government over per dose cost for immunisation camps held outside.

Private hospital are reviewing their vaccination programmes after the announcement of the new immunisation policy, which caps their vaccine charges even as it allowed them to purchase 25 per cent of the total jabs available.

The Union government has capped handling charges at Rs 150 per vaccine dose over and above procurement cost for private hospitals. This will bring down cost of per Covishield dose to Rs 780, which earlier cost a recipient Rs 800-1,100. Covaxin per dose will now cost Rs 1,410. Earlier, it was Rs 1,250-1,750. Sputnik V will cost Rs 1,145.

Hospitals said they may cut down on corporate and housing society immunisation drives as such camps require additional expenditure to transport the medical team and keep an ambulance on standby to transport anyone who shows adverse effects after vaccination.

While hospitals have now sought clarity from the Union government over per dose cost for immunisation camps held outside, some said they may ask corporates or housing societies to bear infrastructure and transport costs while they will only provide vaccination service.

Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant at Bombay Hospital, said the hospital makes “minimal profit” from the Rs 800 they currently charge for a Covishield dose. “For vaccination outside the hospital, we need Rs 10,000-20,000 extra for ambulance and medical team. I believe societies will be ready to bear this cost. We are flooded with requests and they are willing to pay,” he added.

Dr Niraj Uttamani, medical director in Holy Family hospital, said they do not plan to go ahead with corporate or society immunisation camps. “It requires additional expenditure and makes management of anaphylaxis reaction difficult,” he added. The hospital is also presently charging Rs 800 per Covishield dose.

Patrick B Pratap, administrative head in Sushrut hospital, which charges Rs 1,000 per Covishield dose, said the new policy makes it “rather difficult to handle” with the Rs 150 cap. “Even before May 1, the government had capped Rs 100 as handling charges. We have additional manpower as well as administrative, cold chain and syringe costs to factor in. If this is solely for service to mankind then it’s okay, but from an economic perspective, this is a loss,” he added.

Spokesperson of Apollo hospital said they are awaiting clarity on the new policy before deciding their immunisation strategy.

Another change Centre plans is to create a system where small private hospitals submit their vaccine demand to the government and the latter arranges the jabs for them. A state health official said currently, stock is unevenly distributed in the private sector. “Government intervention may lead to some equity in private sector procurement procedure,” the official added. Currently, large hospital chains are able to buy more stock, while smaller hospitals are unable to negotiate with manufacturers. In Mumbai, H N Reliance hospital purchased maximum stock (9.89 lakh doses) followed by Godrej Memorial hospital (3.35 lakh) and Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital (1 lakh). The rest over 40 hospitals shared a few thousand doses. Smaller hospitals said reaching out to manufacturers to strike a deal has proved difficult.

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