Several private vaccination centres are refusing healthcare and frontline workers their second dose of covid-19 vaccines and pushing them to government-run sites after being pulled up for giving jabs to people who do not qualify
Several private vaccination centres are refusing healthcare and frontline workers their second dose of covid-19 vaccines and pushing them to government-run sites after being pulled up for giving jabs to people who do not qualify.
In first week of April, the health ministry told the Delhi government to take stringent action against some private vaccination centres found to be giving jabs to people below the age of 45 years by registering them as healthcare or frontline workers.
It is unclear exactly who has been gaming the system—recipients, private hospital staff or both.
So far, only healthcare and frontline workers, people who are 45 and over and younger people with comorbidities are allowed to be vaccinated.
After such deceptions were discovered, several private hospitals stopped administering the second dose to healthcare and frontline workers, even those who had received their first dose at the same centre.
“The hospitals were earlier not wary that people who are below 45 and not eligible may wrongly register themselves for covid-19 vaccination posing as healthcare or frontline workers. Just to be sure that such things don’t happen in our vaccination centre, we have motivated our frontline and healthcare workers who are due for the second dose to take it at any nearby government-run centre," said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman of Fortis C-DOC. “This will ensure that no such unintended error occurs and genuine beneficiaries avail the vaccinations as per government orders."
After initial hesitancy, there has been a rise in vaccine acceptance in the last few months, probably due to the second wave. Despite being overwhelmed by requests for jabs, several private hospitals claim they want to abide by the government’s order and avoid any controversy.
“On 3 April at 5pm, we got an order from the central government putting a blanket ban on any new registrations below 45 years, because the government felt that there were many people who were not actually medical or frontline workers. And they had been getting registered by showing some fake papers," said Dr Shuchin Bajaj, founder-director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, which has hospitals in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Following the order, the group stopped fresh registrations—for both first and second dose.
“The Medical Association talked to the government saying that there were some doctors who had not been registered yet, so the government has now made an exemption, saying that if any healthcare worker has been left out, they should approach the local government hospital or the chief district medical officer, and they will be only empowered to register these healthcare workers after verifying their antecedents and paperwork," said Bajaj.
“A few cases—for example, a person with a kidney stone, and a soon-to-be wedded groom—wanted the vaccine, both being below 45 years of age. Such individuals were counselled by us, and we explained the government regulations and directives to them," said Dr Lingaiah Amidayala, director-Medical Services, Yashoda Hospitals Group, Hyderabad.
This practice is being followed by all private hospitals across the country. “Following all guidelines issued by the government, we are asking all frontline and healthcare workers (below 45 years) to go for their vaccination dose to government centres only. Private hospitals have been expressly asked to vaccinate only the general public who have registered themselves on the Cowin or Arogya Setu Apps as per their designated age categories," Behram Khodaiji, joint CEO Masina Hospital told Mint.
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