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Electronic vouchers to help inoculation of poor, says Centre in revised Covid guidelines


PTI, Jun 8, 2021, 3:37 PM IST

Source: iStock

New Delhi: Use of non-transferable electronic vouchers approved by the Reserve Bank of India will be encouraged to enable people to financially support COVID-19 inoculation of economically weaker sections at private centres, according to the revised guidelines issued by the Centre on Tuesday.

While the Co-WIN platform provides every citizen the facility of conveniently pre-booking vaccination appointments, all government and private vaccination centers will also provide an onsite registration facility, available both for individuals as well as groups of individuals, for which detailed procedure is to be finalised and published by states/UTs, the ‘Revised Guidelines for implementation of National COVID Vaccination Program’ stated.
According to the guidelines which will come into effect from June 21, vaccine doses provided free of cost by the Centre will be allocated to states/UTs based on criteria such as population, disease burden and progress of vaccination.

”Wastage of vaccine will affect the allocation negatively,” the revised guidelines issued by the Union health ministry said.

As announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, the revised guidelines stated that the Government of India will procure 75 per cent of the vaccines being produced by manufacturers in the country.

“The vaccines procured will continue to be provided free of cost to states and UTs as has been the case from the commencement of the national vaccination programme. These doses will be administered by the states/UTs free of cost to all citizens as per priority through government vaccination centres.

“Within the population group of citizens more than 18 years of age, states/UTs may decide their own prioritisation factoring in the vaccine supply schedule,” the revised guidelines stated.

In order to incentivise production by vaccine manufacturers and encourage new vaccines, domestic vaccine manufacturers are also given the option to provide vaccines directly to private hospitals. This would be restricted to 25 per cent of their monthly production, it stated.

”To promote the spirit of ‘Lok Kalyan’, use of non-transferable electronic vouchers which can be redeemed at private vaccination centers, will be encouraged. This will enable people to financially support vaccination of economically weaker sections at private vaccination centres,” the revised guidelines said.

The states/UTs will aggregate the demand of private hospitals keeping in view equitable distribution of vaccines between large and small private hospitals and regional balance.

”Based on this aggregated demand, the Union government will facilitate supply of these vaccines to private hospitals and their payment through the National Health Authority’s electronic platform. This would enable the smaller and remoter private hospitals to obtain timely supply of vaccines, and further equitable access and regional balance,” the ministry said.

The price of vaccine doses for private hospitals will be declared by each vaccine manufacturer, and any subsequent changes will be notified in advance.

All citizens irrespective of their income status are entitled to free vaccination. Those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use private hospitals’ vaccination centres, the guidelines said.

States may also optimally utilise the common service centres and call centres to facilitate prior booking by citizens.

The revised program provides states/UTs with additional central government support across funding, procurement and logistics.

The Covid vaccination in the country commenced with vaccination to all healthcare workers. The program was expanded with time to include vaccination of frontline workers, citizens more than 60 years of age, those more than 45 years of age and eventually those more than 18 years of age.

Under the National Covid Vaccination Program, from January 16 to April 30, 100 per cent of vaccine doses were procured by the Government of India and provided free of cost to state governments.

State governments were in turn to administer vaccination free of cost to defined priority groups.

To increase the pace of vaccination, participation of private hospitals was also enlisted where individuals could also choose to get vaccinated at a prescribed rate, the ministry said.

In response to suggestions of many state governments to be permitted the flexibility to procure vaccine directly and administer them as per their own prioritisation based on local requirements, the central government revised the guidelines.

The state governments and private hospitals were now also empowered to directly procure from the remaining 50 per cent vaccine pool.

”Many states have, however, now communicated that they are facing difficulties in managing the funding, procurement and logistics of vaccines, impacting the pace of the National Covid Vaccination Program.

”It has also been noted that smaller and remoter private hospitals are also facing constraints. Keeping in view the aforesaid aspects, the experiences gained from May 1 and the repeated requests received from states, the guidelines for National Covid Vaccination Program have been reviewed and revised,” the ministry said.

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