Two Delhi hospitals vaccinating ineligible people: Centre

Asks State govt. to seek explanation and, if necessary, depanel them

Two private healthcare facilities here, Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health (VIMHANS) and Bensups Hospital, have been registering beneficiaries below 45 years as ‘healthcare workers (HCW)’ and ‘frontline workers (FLW)’ and vaccinating them.

The Health Ministry has marked this out as a “serious lapse” and has asked the Delhi government to seek an explanation from the hospitals and, if necessary, “depanel” them, according to press statement on Monday.

India’s current vaccination rules permit anyone above 45 to get themselves vaccinated. Before April 1, only those over 60 and those over 45 with comorbidities were eligible. On April 3, Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, had written to health authorities in all States that “ineligible beneficiaries” were being registered as HCW and FLW and vaccinated. This led to the HCW database increasing by 24% and therefore the apex vaccination committee, the NEGVAC, had decided on Saturday to bar all registrations in the HCW and FLW category.

The deadlines for these two groups, Bhushan’s letter said, had been extended multiple times.

Monday’s letter to the Principal Secretary (Health), New Delhi, says “…vaccines are a precious commodity, these serious lapses at the VIMHANS CVC in terms of compliance of COVID-19 vaccination guidelines harm the countrywide vaccination exercise as eligible beneficiaries may get deprived from vaccination. The Delhi administration has been asked to immediately issue a show cause notice to VIMHANS regarding such wrong practices which violate COVID-19 vaccination norms, and seek a written explanation from them within the next 48 hours. Appropriate monetary fine may also be imposed on the hospital. Further, it has been suggested that depanelment of the Hospital may be considered if the explanation to the show cause notice is found unsatisfactory.”

Over a lakh new cases

India added a little over a 100,000 cases in a single day between Sunday and Monday morning, even as the total number of vaccinations inched closer to 8 crore. The number of daily vaccinations in recent weeks has hovered between 2 and 2.5 million due to which India, in spite of being among the countries of the world having administered the highest number of doses, is middling in terms of the percentage of the population covered.

As of Monday, India had administered a single dose to 5% of the population and only 0.7% had been fully inoculated.

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