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New Delhi: Private hospitals that are not empanelled under any central or state government health scheme can now also operate as COVID Vaccination Centre (CVCs) subject to them mandatorily adhering to some specific norms. The decision was taken in a review meeting of the union health ministry with states on Tuesday.

With the decision, all private hospitals have been permitted to operate as CVCs if they have adequate number of vaccinators, adequate space for observation of the vaccinated, adequate cold chain arrangement and adequate arrangement for management of adverse event following immunisation (AEFI). The centre asked States/UTs to proactively make efforts to use these private hospitals as CVCs.

So far, Private Hospitals only empanelled under Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PM JAY) and similar State Health Insurance Schemes could only function as CVCs.

The union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan along with Ram S Sharma, Chairman of Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration (Co-WIN) and member, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of covid-19 (NEGVAC) chaired a high-level review meeting on Tuesday with additional Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Secretaries (health) of States and UTs through a video conference. They reviewed the status and pace of the next phase of the country-wide COVID vaccination program which commenced from 1st March 2021.

The centre asked states to ensure adequate allocation of vaccines to all hospitals (government and private) for the entire duration for which sessions has been planned, to enable them to function as CVCs in a smooth and obstruction free manner. It was reiterated that there is no shortage of COVID vaccines, hence adequate vaccine doses should be allocated to the CVCs. States/UTs should not store, reserve, conserve or create a buffer stock of the COVID vaccines at the State and district levels.

“The Central Government has adequate stock and will provide the required vaccine doses to the States and UTs. All Private Vaccination Centres should have in place effective crowd management protocols along with facilities for seating, water, proper signage etc. They should also ensure adherence of Covid-appropriate behaviour among the citizen beneficiaries. State and District administration would proactively facilitate this," the union health ministry said in a statement.

The central government said that States/UTs in consultation with the Private Hospitals should open the vaccination slots for 15 days to a month and announce this as part of their Vaccine Time Table. “The Co-WIN2.0 portal can be scaled up to accommodate all potential and eligible citizen beneficiaries. This portal should be put to effective use as the backbone of the vaccination program," the union health ministry said.

Meanwhile, Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday took his first dose of the covid-19 vaccine at Delhi Heart and Lung Institute, New Delhi. “Me and my wife took our first dose of Covaxin vaccine today. I appeal to all above 60 years and people between 45 years and 59 years with co-morbidities. We have taken this vaccine by paying Rs. 250/each at the hospital. People who can afford this vaccine, please get it from your nearest private hospital," said Harsh Vardhan who admitted that there were some glitches in Co-WIN platform due to high number of registrations all of a sudden. India has so far administered more than 1.5 crore vaccine doses.

As the country continues vaccination of population to control covid-19 pandemic, some states in the country continue to report high number of cases. At least 12,286 new cases were recorded in last 24 hours with 80.33% of the new cases from 5 States. Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 6,397. It is followed by Kerala with 1,938 while Punjab reported 633 new cases.

India’s total Active Caseload stands at 1,68,358. Two states, Maharashtra and Kerala alone account for 67.84% of total active cases, the union health ministry said. Five States cumulatively account for 84.16% of the total active cases in the country. Maharashtra alone accounts for 46.82% of India’s total active cases, followed by Kerala with 28.61%.

At least 91 deaths were also reported in the last 24 hours. Six States account for 85.71% of the new deaths. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (30). Punjab follows with 18 daily deaths. Kerala reported13 deaths, the health ministry data showed.

“Overall Case positivity is 5.11 % and has shown a significant decline in the last week with a 2.01%. More than 1.07 Cr (1,07,98,921) people has recovered so far. 12,464 patients have recovered and got discharged in the last 24 hours. India’s Recovery Rate is at 97.08% and continues to be amongst the highest in the world," said Rajesh Bhushan, union health secretary said.

“The country’s present active caseload now consists of 1.51% of total positive cases. Although certain states in the country are seeing a surge in the number of active cases the fact remains that the recovered cases are more than 97% and active cases are still less than 2 %," said Bhushan

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