States depend on government hospitals for free COVID-19 vaccines: Data

Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Despite the Centre’s big push to private hospitals for Covid vaccination, states largely seem to be relying on government hospitals to offer the crucial service where the jabs are being given for free. 

Of more than 6.1 crore vaccine shots administered in India till Tuesday afternoon, just 16.53 % doses or a little over 1 crore doses were given in the private facilities, according to the data maintained by the Union health ministry.

Among all states and UTs, Chandigarh has the highest participation of private hospitals where a little over 50 % vaccine doses have been given in private facilities, followed by Telangana at 48.39 %.  

In many states, including Maharashtra, Haryana and MP, the share of private facilities is less than 25 % or just about this figure. 

Even in Delhi, an exception where more private hospitals than government centres are offering Covid vaccination, just about 43 % vaccine doses have been administered in private centres showing that beneficiaries may be opting for government centres in larger numbers.  

Curiously, the share of private hospitals is considerably low despite the Centre’s repeat reminders to the states to permit inoculations at even those private hospitals, not empanelled under any Central or state-run health insurance schemes after the vaccinations opened for all above 60 and those over 45 with specific comorbidities on March 1. 

Sources said that the low participation of the private health facilities is due to “biases” shown by most state and local authorities.

“There are 68,000 private hospitals where the vaccinations can be carried out but very few of them are being utilised and permitted by the states,” said Girdhar J Gyani, director general of the Association of Private Healthcare Providers of India. 

 The states, he claimed, are behaving as if they are doing a “favour on private hospitals by allowing them to offer the vaccinations.”

“In reality, the scale of vaccination will increase manifold if private hospitals participate in a big way.” 

In a letter to the PM, the Association had said that at the present rate of vaccination, it may take more than a year to vaccinate the priority groups.  

“India can easily achieve 20 million doses per day, if we are able to utilize the vast capacity within the private sector,” it argued.