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Karnataka: Private hospitals in quandary over vaccinating 18-45 age group

Karnataka suspended vaccination at govt centres for 18-45 age group on May 14

Representative image | PTI Representative image | PTI

Government vaccination centres in Karnataka suspended vaccination for 18-45 age group on May 14. Only a few private hospitals in Bengaluru are offering vaccines now to people in this category. “A few slots may be available in Manipal, BGS Gleneagles Global and Apollo Hospitals. The other hospitals are not offering vaccination for people in this age group,” said Dr H.M. Prasanna, president, PHANA (Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association), Karnataka. Private hospitals are clueless about when vaccination for the 18-45 age category can be resumed. “We are unable to source the vaccine. The government has not been providing vaccines since May 1. So, we had to run around and find out vendors. That process is still going on. We don’t have a concrete timeline as to when the vaccine will be available for private hospitals.”

PHANA and AHPI (Association of Healthcare Providers India) are working together and trying to source vaccines from Bharat Biotech and other vaccine manufacturers. ''Within a day or two, we’ll know when we’ll get our first consignment. Then, we can start vaccinating 18+. But right now, nobody has an idea about when vaccinations for those over 18 can be resumed. It may take up to two weeks. Supply chain for Sputnik V has to be worked out. We have requested Apollo Hospitals to help us out. They have cold chain. Now, MoUs have to be signed and nitty-gritties have to be worked out.”

How much do private hospitals in the city charge for vaccinating 18+? “Rs 1350-1500 for Covaxin. They don’t mention Covishield, of late,’’ said Prasanna.

Apparently, there has been a huge demand for COVID-19 vaccines among younger adults. “But we don't have stocks and supply. I wrote to the government to make vaccines available for private hospitals, so we can reach out to more people at the earliest. However, the government hasn’t responded yet,’’ said Prasanna.

Columbia Asia Hospital has put the vaccine drive for 18+ on hold. “The current 75,000 doses have been reserved for population who need to get their second dose. There is definitely a shortage and everyone should realise that vaccination is the only way to fight the pandemic,’’ said Dr Abhijit Bhograj of Columbia Asia Hospital, Sadashivanagar, Bengaluru.

Meanwhile, Fortis Healthcare is planning to resume vaccinations for 18+ age group from May 24. “We are in touch with the suppliers to provide us the stock of the vaccine as there is a huge gap between demand and supply,” said a spokesperson of Fortis Healthcare. “We’ll be charging Rs 850 per dose for Covishield and Rs 1,250 per dose for Covaxin,’’ he said.

The Karnataka government tweeted on May 12 that “Vaccination for 18 to 44 age group (including those who have already booked appointment) will be temporarily suspended from 14-05-2021 till further orders. This order will be applicable for COVID vaccination at all Government COVID vaccination centres in state.’’

The tweet was a bit confusing, says Dilip Jose, managing director and CEO of Manipal Hospitals. “It looks like it is covering the government hospitals, and private hospitals could continue.

“However, for us as well, the priority would be to complete the second dose, even though we may offer some slots for the 18-44 group.” He added that it looks challenging, considering the limited stock of vaccines.


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