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Maharashtra awaits guidelines on role of private sector in next phase of Covid vaccination

Maharashtra has vaccinated 11.09 lakh vaccine beneficiaries so far. After Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra is on the fifth spot, with the highest number of vaccinations. In Pune district, 65.2 per cent healthcare workers have been vaccinated (73,624).

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas , Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: February 25, 2021 9:42:42 pm
States and union territories have been advised to expand vaccination sessions to all public healthcare facilities, along with CGHS and PM-JAY empaneled hospitals, from March. (File)

While the Centre has, in its review meeting with states and union territories, stressed on improving the pace of vaccination in Maharashtra,health officials are awaiting directives on the involvement of the private sector in rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine.

From March 1, Covid-19 vaccination will be extended to people aged 60 years and above and those above 45, who have comorbidities.

States and union territories have been advised to expand Covid-19 vaccination sessions to all public healthcare facilities, along with CGHS and PM-JAY empaneled hospitals, from March.

State Immunisation Officer Dr D N Patil told The Indian Express, “We need to wait for standard operating procedures and guidelines from the Centre…. The announcements have been made and presently, we have enough doses for the listed vaccine beneficiaries – 28.37 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine and 4.8 lakh doses of Covaxin.”

Maharashtra has vaccinated 11.40 lakh vaccine beneficiaries so far. After Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra is on the fifth spot, with the highest number of vaccinations. In Pune district, 65.2 per cent healthcare workers have been vaccinated (73,624). Satara district has registered 75.4 per cent vaccination of healthcare workers (19,667) and Solapur district has registered 80 per cent vaccination of healthcare workers (27,147).

Dr Subhash Salunkhe, the state’s technical advisor on Covid-19 who has been advocating the need for involving the private sector in the vaccination programme, said that priority should be given to states, including Maharashtra, where there are rising number of infections. He, however, felt that it would take at least another 10 days for the COWIN digital system to register vaccine beneficiaries and then start the inoculation process.

However, at Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, president Sudhir Mehta has pointed out that given the rising case load in Maharashtra and Kerala, the central government should prioritise vaccination of the vulnerable population in these two states.

“Pune, which is again emerging as the epicenter of the disease, would need 2 million doses and that should be provided forthwith. The logic is simple — the crisis in these two stages is acute and all efforts should be taken to defuse the same. The government’s decision to include the private sector in the vaccine rollout is certainly welcome,” Mehta told The Indian Express.

He also raised concerns about the lack of preparation to roll out the third phase of the vaccine. “The COWIN app will be rolled out and soon technical glitches can be anticipated due to the heavy rush to register. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has generated its own database, which will be exported onto the COWIN platform once it is launched. Something similar could have been done at least in Pune and Mumbai to make the experience seamless,” said Mehta, who is also among the founders of a voluntary group, Pune Platform for Covid Response.

“We are waiting for more clarity on what is termed as comorbidity, which would be a criterion for 45 plus people to get the vaccine. Such a definition would help the authorities be better prepared. The pandemic at its present stage is certainly scary… given the fact that Pune’s numbers are again on the rise. The vaccine rollout should be as smooth as possible to arrest the spread of the disease. Uncontrolled spread would force the hands of the authorities towards a lockdown, which would have catastrophic effect,” said the MCCIA president

Indian Medical Association member Dr Sanjay Patil, who is also chairman of the Hospital Board of India, Pune Chapter, said that the IMA has requested Pune Municipal Corporation authorities to start a vaccination centre on the IMA campus. “IMA’s 15 to 20 hospitals are ready to participate in the vaccination drive,” said Dr Patil.

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