COVID-19: Union health secy writes to states, UTs on phase 3 inoculation drive
New Delhi: From May 1, the types of anti-coronavirus vaccine and their prices will be displayed on the CoWIN portal for citizens to make an informed choice at the time of booking an appointment at a private vaccination centre.
While those aged 18 to 44 years will be eligible to receive vaccination on payment from any of the private COVID vaccination centres (CVCs), citizens below 45 years shall also be eligible to receive a jab from a government CVC in a state or Union Territory which decides to lower the minimum cut off age for eligibility.
The registration of citizens in the 18-44 age group will start on the CoWIN portal from April 28.
Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India will be given at Rs 400 per dose to states and Rs 600 per dose to private hospitals, while Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin will cost Rs 600 per dose for the states and Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospitals.
In a letter to states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said each private CVC must declare on CoWIN, the vaccine type(s), the stocks of vaccines and the prices decided by it to be charged from the citizens, for vaccination services being offered from May 1.
Appropriate changes are being done in the facility registration module of COWIN to include these details, he said.
“The vaccine types and their prices will be displayed in the appointments module on COWIN so that the citizens can make an informed choice at the time of booking a vaccination appointment,” the health secretary stated.
All vaccination slots at private CVCs will continue to be offered only for online appointments from CoWIN or Arogya Setu. On-site registration/appointments will be allowed only if any doses are left in the last opened vial(s) to minimise vaccine wastage, the letter stated.
As provided in the Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy document, all priority groups such as the healthcare workers, the frontline workers and citizens above 45 years shall continue to be eligible for vaccination free of cost from the government CVCs or on payment from the private CVCs.
The state and UT governments, in the event of procurement of vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers, may decide to expand the coverage from the doses so procured to reduce the cut off age for eligibility for vaccination at the government CVCs.
The CoWIN system shall provide the feature to states and UTs for setting the minimum age cut off value for a state and Union Territory. In such cases, the government CVCs will be visible to eligible beneficiaries for booking an online appointment based on validation on the minimum cut off age defined by the respective state/UT government, the letter stated.
Citizens in the age group of 18 to 44 years shall be eligible to receive vaccination, on payment, from any of the private CVCs.
“Citizens below the age of 45 years shall also be eligible to receive vaccination from a government CVC in a state/UT where that state and UT decides to lower the minimum cut off age for eligibility of beneficiaries to less than 45 years, for covering such additional eligible beneficiaries from the vaccine stocks directly procured by the respective state/UT government from vaccine manufacturers,” the letter highlighted.
Bhushan, in his letter, said the eligibility conditions for any health facility for registration as a CVC also remain unchanged.
For any private health facility to be operated as a CVC, the facility must have sufficient Cold Chain equipment and capacity, sufficient rooms/space for waiting area, vaccination and observation post vaccination, sufficient number of trained vaccinators and verifiers and the ability to manage the adverse events following immunization (AEFI), according to the norms and guidelines of the ministry.
Wherever an industrial establishment has a hospital that is eligible for registration as a CVC as per the eligibility conditions, such units can be registered on CoWIN as an industrial establishment CVC.
The industrial establishments without such suitable hospitals may be registered as an industrial workplace CVC, with mapping to any other existing private CVC.
“Henceforth, it will not be necessary for the state and UT governments to send any proposal to the ministry for approval of new private CVCs, prior to their registration on CoWIN,” the letter said.
“The state/UT government may designate an appropriate authority at state/district level that will ensure that only facilities eligible as per the criteria specified are registered on CoWIN as a CVC. The designated authority must take a decision on registration, within two days of the receipt of application/request in this regard,” it said.
The health secretary advised the states and UTs that registration of the new CVCs may be taken up in campaign mode and meetings may be held with private hospitals and their representative organisations in which they may be fully informed about the liberalised pricing and accelerated national COVID-19 vaccination strategy and above provisions.
Registration of willing hospitals meeting the eligibility criteria may be done on CoWIN on an expeditious basis.
The system of supplying vaccine stocks to private CVCs and collection of Rs 150 per dose, will cease to exist from May 1, the letter reiterated.
“The state and UT government would therefore need to do a complete stock taking of the funds deposited by the private CVCs, the vaccine doses supplied to them, the vaccine doses utilised so far and the doses likely to be utilised till April 30, 2021,” it said.
Any unutilised vaccine stock will have to be returned to the Cold Chain Point from where the stocks were issued. The state/UT governments must make a careful assessment of the potential for full utilisation of such vaccine doses up to April 30, before issuing any further stock to the private CVCs, the letter said.