Nagpur: The precaution dose of Covid-19 vaccines has been allowed for the 18+ population group from April 10. More than 15 days later, thousands of citizens in this age group becoming eligible for the precaution dose are getting SMS alerts daily to get jabbed with the booster. However, no booster doses are available.
In eight out of 11 districts of Vidarbha, not even a single private hospital has enrolled to provide the paid booster dose to this age group. Though people are ready to pay, they have nowhere to go to take the booster dose.
Gondia, Bhandara, Yavatmal, Buldhana, Washim, Gadchiroli, Wardha, and Chandrapur are the districts in Vidarbha where no private hospital is available for people to get boosters by paying for it. Amravati and Akola have only one hospital each providing this facility. Even in the Nagpur district, only three hospitals are providing paid boosters to the eligible population officially as per the Cowin platform.
According to the government decision, the precautionary dose for the 18-plus population is available at private vaccination centers only. Private centers are to charge Rs386.25 for Covaxin and Covishield boosters, including Rs150 as a service charge. But few private hospitals have shown interest in procuring the boosters.
It was expected that many private hospitals will jump in as they did in April 2021, when paid vaccines were launched for the first time. But, as free vaccination became the norm later, private hospitals had to suffer losses last year. Many had to donate the procured vaccines to the government as their shelf life was about to end. As a result, only big corporate hospitals have procured the doses this time.
States like Haryana have procured the booster doses directly from manufacturers and made them available for free to 18-59 age group citizens at government centers. If such a decision is taken in Maharashtra, hospitals fear they will suffer from financial losses again.
While no government official was willing to come on record to speak on this issue, Dr. Ashok Arbat, chairman of Vidarbha Hospitals Association (VHA), said private hospitals at district and periphery levels may not procure new doses. “Till we had doses with shelf life, we provided them to the people. Now, this stock is nearly finished. If hospitals are assured that they will get takers, only then will they buy new stock,” he said.
BOOSTER NOT AVAILABLE
18+ people who have completed 9 months post 2nd dose eligible for precaution dose.
Precaution does only available at private vaccination centers.
Govt vaccination centers continue only ongoing free vaccination programs.
Pvt hospitals will get booster doses at a discounted price.
But few hospitals in Vidarbha have shown interest.
Hospitals fear if the state govt starts boosters for free, they will suffer losses again.