Bengaluru: Vaccination drive in private hospitals hit as civic body officials seize stock citing central policy

BBMP officials took back all the stocks citing it as “new government policy” The civic body stated that private hospitals will have to procure doses directly from the manufacturer from Saturday.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Friday took back all Covid-19 vaccine stocks from private hospitals dealing a huge blow to their vaccination drive.

BBMP officials took back all the stocks citing it as “new government policy” The civic body stated that private hospitals will have to procure doses directly from the manufacturer from Saturday.

The fourth phase of the vaccination drive, which will also make those aged between 18 and 44 years eligible for the jab, is scheduled to open Saturday. Many elderly citizens, who were supposed to take their second dose at private hospitals Friday, were hit as the BBMP officials took back the vaccine stocks.

People, who received their first shot at the rate of Rs 250 per dose, will now have to shell out a minimum of Rs 600 to get their second at private hospitals as the vaccines would now be procured directly from manufacturers.

Over the last few days, private hospitals in Bengaluru have been complaining about the lack of vaccine supply.

BBMP defended its action saying it was just following government protocol. Speaking to indianexpress.com, BBMP’s Chief Health Officer Vijayendra said, “According to guidelines laid down by the central government, private hospitals cannot administer vaccines that they had procured from the government from Saturday onwards. They have to start buying directly from manufacturers. Hence, as per the policy, we are taking back the vaccines.”

While private hospitals alleged that vaccines that were scheduled to be given to people Friday were also taken by the BBMP, Vijayendra claimed the civic body officials did not touch the vaccines that were to be administered on the day and only took the remaining stocks.

Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) president Dr HM Prasanna slammed the civic body’s action. Speaking to indianexpress.com, Prasanna said, “We paid for the vaccines. All of a sudden, Friday morning, BBMP officials started taking back the vaccines. They could have done it Saturday as many citizens could not receive the jab Friday.”

Meanwhile, state Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said that vaccination of those aged above 18 years, which was to start from May 1, might be delayed as fresh consignments of vaccines have not yet arrived. “I request people above 18 years of age not to visit hospitals as the government is yet to receive the order from the manufacturer,” he said.

“It is not possible for us to start vaccinating people in the age group of 18 to 45 years from tomorrow. Please don’t take it otherwise. The moment we get official information, we will let you know,” Sudhakar added.

“We have placed orders with the Serum Institute of India in Pune for over one crore doses but the official word is that they are still not prepared to give it to us by tomorrow, as scheduled,” he added, asking people who have enrolled themselves on the Cowin portal for inoculation to not visit vaccination centres on May 1.

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