Population, disease burden, progress of vaccination and vaccine wastage will be the criteria for allocation of vaccines to states under the revised guidelines introduced on Tuesday. The Centre will also facilitate supply of vaccines to the private hospitals and their payment through the electronic platform of national health authority in order to ensure small and remote hospitals get timely and equitable access to vaccines.
All government and private vaccination centres will provide onsite or walk-in registration facility for individuals as well as groups of people, according to guidelines issued a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that vaccination procurement would be centralised again. The government would also introduce non-transferable electronic vouchers to encourage people to help with vaccination of the economically weaker section. These vouchers can be redeemed only at private vaccination centres.
The government said 12 states had requested for centralised procurement in the last one month, including Kerala, Punjab, Sikkim, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Odisha and Tripura, among others.
The liberalised policy that came into effect on May 1 took into account the extent of infection, performance and wastage of vaccines in allocations to the states. With the government now targeting universal immunisation, population of the state is a new criterion.
As part of the new guidelines that come into effect from June 21, states would have to aggregate the demand of private hospitals keeping in mind regional balance and equal distribution among large and small hospitals. The government will procure 75 per cent of the vaccines being produced in the country and make them available to states for free for all above 18 years of age. However, priority has to be given to health, frontline workers, those above 45 years of age followed by those whose second dose is due. Those above 18 would be last in this priority list.
Private hospitals are allowed to directly access 25 per cent of the monthly production of vaccines. The guidelines said this had been done to incentivize production by vaccine manufacturers and encourage new vaccines. On whether the revised stance was triggered by Supreme Court observations VK Paul, member-health Niti Aayog, said the government was evaluating the decentralised model ever since it was conceived. He said the PM had given directions after two high-level meetings on May 15 and 21 to think of alternate models. “Decisions do not happen overnight. We were alive to the public narrative. SC’s process in its own place, our internal feedback was going on from the very beginning,” Paul said. “All citizens irrespective of their income status are entitled to free vaccination. Those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use private hospital’s vaccination centres,” the guidelines said.
The price of vaccine doses for private hospitals would be declared by each vaccine manufacturer, and any subsequent changes would be notified in advance, according to the revised guidelines.
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