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Lack of infrastructure and manpower may put a dampener on the government’s order to set up workplace covid-19 vaccination centres (CVC) at offices.

The guidelines state every CVC in a government workplace will be tagged to the nearest government CVC and every CVC in a private office will be tagged to the nearest CVC in a private medical facility.

But government healthcare institutions are overburdened as it is, and private hospitals are turning down requests from companies.

Ujala Cygnus Healthcare Services, a group of 13 hospitals in tier-II and -III cities, which is getting requests from several workplaces to set up vaccination centres, said a lot of employers do not have proper infrastructure as listed under the guidelines.

“To create CVCs, it’s mandatory to have a medical officer as supervisor/team leader, anaphylaxis kit for management of any adverse event and to be linked to the nearest health facility. The travel time from the workplace to a health facility should be less than an hour; basic life support ambulance should mandatorily be deployed at the workplace CVC," said Shashank Saini, head, digital health, Ujala Cygnus. “We (hospitals) are short of supplies as the numbers are rising day by day. We should have prepared well and made the policy more employer- and hospital-friendly to contribute in this vaccination drive."

The availability of infrastructure and shortage of manpower, vaccine, equipment, ambulance and beds will definitely be the biggest challenges.

The government has said organizing vaccination at the workplace will not only be convenient to staff but also help avoid travel.

But, a shortage of manpower and worries about potential adverse effects of vaccinations in private offices have deterred private healthcare providers from participating in office vaccination camps.

“This is an idea with a good intention to widen the areas of vaccination administration, thus avoiding crowding at healthcare centres, but it looks like a difficult task to execute on the ground. There would be a great strain on the trained personnel who have to administer vaccines and also manage the other patients admitted in the healthcare facilities," said Dr Dinesh Kapil, senior consultant, paediatrics, Red Cross Hospital, New Delhi.

Kapil said that corporates have not approached Red Cross Hospital to set up such centres, but even if they had, the hospital would not be able to spare resources to set up a supplementary vaccination centre.

“Hospitals would find it difficult to spare nurses to travel to different places to administer vaccines. There may be other hurdles, like arranging infrastructure to deal with any emergency that may arise," said Kapil.

Private sector hospitals also want more clarity over costing issues for setting up such centres. “As per the present norms, we need to primarily ensure the safety aspect of the vaccination drive, in addition to having fully equipped infrastructure required to take care of adverse side effects that may occur on-site, which may be a challenge," said Dr Vispi Jokhi, chief executive of Masina Hospital Mumbai.

The central government last week asked states to start covid-19 vaccination in both public and private workplaces from 11 April for employees above 45 years of age.

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