The Centre on Tuesday permitted all private hospitals to give the coronavirus vaccine if they adhere to the laid down norms and also asked the states and union territories to utilise the optimum capacity of private medical facilities empanelled under three categories.
The states and Union territories were also urged not to store, reserve, conserve or create a buffer stock of the COVID-19 vaccines, the Union health ministry said in a statement, a day after the start of the second phase of India's inoculation drive in which the coverage has been expanded to include everyone above 60 and those over 45 with specified co-morbidities.
At an official review meeting with the states, the Centre reiterated there is no shortage of the vaccines and hence, adequate vaccine doses should be allocated to the COVID Vaccination Centres.
"The central government has adequate stock and will provide the required vaccine doses to the states and UTs," it said.
The Centre urged the states and the UTs to ensure adequate allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to all hospitals, government as well as private, for the entire duration for which vaccination sessions have been planned.
It asked them to utilise the optimum capacity of all private hospitals empanelled under the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, the Central Government Health Scheme and the state health insurance schemes to enable them to effectively function as CVCs.
The states and UTs were asked to regularly collaborate with the private hospitals to ensure that their optimum capacity for vaccination is utilised.
"Private hospitals not empanelled under the above-mentioned three categories have also been permitted to operate as CVCs if they have adequate number of vaccinators, adequate space for observation of the vaccinated, adequate cold chain arrangement and adequate arrangement for management of Adverse Events Following Immunisation," the statement said.
In addition to all the government health facilities, all private hospitals empanelled under the CGHS, the AB-PMJAY and the state health insurance schemes can function as CVCs, subject to them mandatorily adhering to certain norms, the statement said.
All private vaccination centres should have effective crowd management protocols in place, along with facilities for seating, water, proper signage etc. They should also ensure adherence to a COVID-appropriate behaviour among the beneficiaries. The state and district administrations would proactively facilitate this, the health ministry said.
"Further, states and UTs in consultation with the private hospitals should open the vaccination slots for 15 days to a month and announce this as part of their Vaccine Time Table," it added.
The Co-WIN2.0 portal can be scaled up to accommodate all potential and eligible beneficiaries. The portal should be put to effective use as the backbone of the vaccination programme, it further said.
This information was shared by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Dr Ram S Sharma, the Chairman of the Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration and member, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of COVID-19, during a high-level review meeting with the additional chief secretaries, principal secretaries and secretaries of the health and family welfare departments of all the states and Union territories through a video-conference.
They also reviewed the status and pace of the second phase of the countrywide COVID-19 vaccination programme.