Amid health officials gearing up to implement the Centre’s revised Covid vaccination guidelines from June 21, the government on Tuesday announced that those who can pay for the inoculation of the economically weaker sections can do so through non-transferable electronic vouchers approved by the Reserve Bank of India.
According to the Centre’s new vaccination guidelines, states will be provided with free doses for inoculation everyone above 18 years.
While the Centre will bear the cost of 75 per cent of the inoculation drive from June 21, private hospitals will procure the remaining 25 per cent of the vaccines and they will be allowed to charge a maximum price of Rs 150 per dose.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced these changes in the country’s vaccination policy during his address to the nation on Monday.
"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 Centre's revised guidelines state.
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.
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.
(With PTI inputs)