Revised policy capping cost at ₹150 extra will lead to reduction, says NITI Aayog member

The high price of vaccines at private hospitals was “unacceptable” and the revised vaccination policy would see reductions, said Dr V.K. Paul, Chairman of the National Empowered Group on Vaccinations on Tuesday.

Dr. Paul’s remarks come a day after the Centre announced a revised vaccine policy from June 21 in which everyone above 18 would be eligible for free vaccines at government centres and State governments no longer need to compete to buy vaccines.

Addressing a press conference, Dr Paul said, “It is unacceptable that hospitals charge ₹1,600 or even ₹4,000 for vaccines that cost ₹600. They must limit their price. Earlier it was ₹100 and we felt that there’s a need for it to be increased. We are confident that this will encourage more hospitals, across the country and not just big cities, to come forward for administering vaccines.”

Currently about 9,000 private hospitals across the country are involved in the vaccination programme and the government expects more of the nearly 25,000-30,000 hospitals across the country to be more involved in the programme.

Prices for vaccines would be declared to hospitals in advance by companies. While everyone would be eligible for free vaccines, people could, of their own accord, opt for paid vaccinations as well as offer to pay for anyone else’s vaccines via electronic vouchers, Dr. Paul added. There would also be the option of on-site registration for everyone over 18 unlike the current system where everyone in the 18-44 category needs to register in advance on the CoWin portal.

Private hospitals have, however, expressed reservations over the changed norms. The larger hospital chains that dominate vaccine procurement, say the price is too low given the higher costs the hospitals incur, and the government should aim to reduce the vaccine prices for the private hospitals as well.

“The cap of ₹150 will not cover the additional costs incurred for such offsite vaccination camps which involve substantial costs like ambulance, transport, extra staff and doctors. We urge the government to consider a higher charge,” Fortis Healthcare said in a statement on Monday following Prime Minister Modi’s address.

Source: Read Full Article