Hospitals and smaller clinics face vaccine inequity

Vaccination at several small private hospitals and health care clinics in Chennai has been halted due to vaccine shortages and lack of clarity on its procurement from manufacturers.

Several small and medium-sized private hospitals and clinics said they had either stopped vaccinations or had suspended them.

“The previous system was good. The government supplied the hospitals and we just vaccinated people. Suddenly, the government transferred the responsibility to institutions to buy vaccines directly, hampering the whole process, ”said a spokesperson for a private hospital.

While opening vaccination to everyone over 18 from May 1, the Center had allowed producers to provide half of their capacity to states and private hospitals at a pre-declared price. In the process, small healthcare facilities and clinics feel left out, unable to compete with the negotiating skills of large healthcare organizations as they compete for a small stock of vaccines available from companies.

No formal communication

Private health actors in Tamil Nadu say there is no formal communication on the availability, distribution and prioritization of vaccines. Large hospitals with a pan-Indian presence are able to negotiate with manufacturers for supplies, while small and medium-sized private hospitals are either completely ignorant of the procedure or lack the means to negotiate the terms. with these pharmacy giants.

“It’s hardly easy for a little guy to contact the manufacturers. Ideally, the government should have continued to supply for a period of time until the private sector finds a supply mechanism, ”said a spokesperson for a large private hospital.

The fate of states

Meanwhile, states like Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are seeing the private sector vaccinating even the 18-45 age group, even though stocks are limited. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, however, has written to the Prime Minister to stop the direct supply of vaccines to private hospitals by vaccine manufacturers.

But in Telangana, the vaccination program had stopped (in public and private hospitals) a week ago due to the unavailability of vaccines, especially Covaxin. A few private hospitals administered doses for a few days.

In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the capital would stop vaccinating 18-44 year olds and close vaccination centers from Saturday evening due to the vaccine shortage. Citizens visiting private hospitals complained that only large hospitals were visible on the app for booking slots, neighborhood nursing homes were lacking.

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