Private hospitals in Kerala reluctant to buy vaccines over lack of clarity in govt policy

Kerala COVID-19 vaccination drive

Thiruvananthapuram: Lack of clarity over the Kerala government’s vaccine procurement policy has made private hospitals reluctant to purchase the inoculation drug directly from manufacturers. 

Barring 15 private hospitals in the state that have made direct anti-COVID-19 vaccine purchases, others have been waiting for a clarity in the government policy.

The central government has been providing free vaccine doses for those aged above 45. Kerala has announced free vaccination for 1.52 crore of its population in the 18-44 age group, and invited bids for a global tender for the drugs. 

The state government has issued an order assigning officials to help private hospitals to procure the vaccines. Private hospitals, however, lacked clarity on why they should purchase the drug if the government would provide it free of cost. 

The private hospital managements have also been apprehensive of incurring losses if they were to make advance payment of Rs 600 for a dose of Covishield, the only vaccine currently available, especially since the government had announced free vaccination. 

Meanwhile, it has been estimated that the government would need at least six months to complete the tendering process and procure the vaccine. Experts opined that the prolonged wait for inoculation would not be an appropriate option during the pandemic. 

Second dose administered to only 5.7% 

Four months since the beginning of the vaccination drive, only 5.69% of the population have received both the doses in Kerala.

Of the state’s total 3,54,89,000 population, 68,78,833 people received the first dose, while 20,22,091 got the second dose also. 

Among the state’s population aged 45 and above, 49% were administered the first shot, while 22% received both the doses. 

The state now has 13 lakh doses of the vaccines, including the 2.53 lakh doses of Covishield and 50,000 doses of Covaxin, which reached Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday night. The total doses in stock included the eight lakh doses purchased by the state.

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