“We need to develop a strategy where we can keep our death rate down. Therefore, vaccinating people above the age of 60 or those above the age of 45 with comorbidities will be a good step, also opening it up for the private sector,” Dr Guleria said. India has a huge target to vaccinate at least 30 crore people even in Phase I, he pointed out.
Calling the decision to involve private players pragmatic, Dr D S Rana, chairman of board of management at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, “This will help us cover maximum people in the shortest time.”
Dr Rana added that the middle- and upper-class people were willing to bear the cost of vaccination and they just wanted the process to be hassle-free. “This will also reduce the financial burden on government resources.”
The private sector is now running 2,000 centres where vaccines provided by the government are administered free of cost to healthcare and frontline workers. In the next phase, sources said, the number of centres in the sector will go up to 20,000. The eligible beneficiaries seeking to get the jab at a private facility may also have to pay, but the cost of vaccines is not clear yet.
Dr Anupam Sibal, group medical director of Apollo hospitals, said the government’s decision to increase the number of vaccination centres in the private sector showed its faith in the role the sector would play in the next phase when 27 crore Indians were to be vaccinated.
A total of 1.14 crore doses of vaccines have been administered till Monday evening through 2,44,071 sessions across India. Three states and one Union territory — Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Lakshadweep — have vaccinated more than 75% of the registered health and frontline workers with the first dose. In Delhi, the rates have been lower.