The Centre has capped the service charge at Rs 150 per COVID-19 vaccine dose at private hospitals, effective from June 21, but the rule may not apply to their off-site camps, The Times of India reported a government official as saying.
“Organisation of camps outside hospitals is not covered under this rule,” a senior official confirmed, suggesting there might be some tweaks to the order.
After the latest announcement of the revised national vaccination policy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 8, most private hospitals said the ceiling might not be adequate for organising off-site camps, including those planned with corporate houses, in housing societies or drive-ins.
According to the ToI report, most private hospitals have been charging between Rs 200 and Rs 600 as service charge within their premises and over Rs 1,000 as service charge for off-campus sessions.
The two major vaccines being administered in the country are Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, priced at Rs 600 for private hospitals, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin priced at Rs 1,200.
This effectively means that a Covaxin dose at an off-site by a private hospital may cost as much as Rs 2,200.
A week ago, there were reports that Moolchand Hospital in Delhi was offering a Covaxin dose for Rs 1,800 -- the highest in the national capital -- at a drive-through.
Now, the government has notified that private hospitals can’t charge more than Rs 780 for a shot of Covishield, Rs 1,410 for Covaxin and Rs 1,145 for Sputnik V, which has recently been approved for emergency use. The prices include taxes and the Rs 150 service charge.
Private hospitals, however, asked both the Centre and respective state governments for more clarity on the issue.
“For hospitals, it should not be a matter of profitability, but they should not pay from their pockets,” ToI quoted Commander Navneet Bali, Regional Director, Northern India, Narayana Health.
He added that Rs 150 as a service charge for vaccination within the hospital should meet the costs. “However, there are overhead costs for organising the off-site sessions,” he said. Narayana Health has waived the service charges for vaccination within as well as outside its campuses.
Camps or kiosks outside a hospital require more manpower, resources and other overheads. “Expansion of sites will be feasible only if some leeway is given at least for the off-site sessions,” Dr Charu Dutt Arora, COVID Care Expert at Sarvodaya Hospital and Research Centre was quoted as saying in ToI.
As of Wednesday, a total of 42,274 sites conducted vaccination till 10.30 pm, according to the report. Of them, only 1,778 were organised by private hospitals.
(Edited by: By Shoma)
First Published: IST