The move is likely to halt the vaccination sessions at private hospitals in the Pune civic limits for the next two months, starting May 1. The PMC has asked the private hospitals to return their unused doses (from the existing supply) before May 1.
PMC officials, however, claimed that vaccination sessions would continue at government/municipal corporation hospitals according to the availability of doses.
A doctor from Joshi Hospital, requesting anonymity, said, “The PMC officials have washed their hands of the responsibility of providing us with the vaccine doses from May 1. They have asked us to approach the manufacturers. When approached, Serum Institute of India (SII) officials expressed their inability to supply any doses to private hospitals at least for the next two months, citing prior commitments to the Union and state government.”
Officials of the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) sounded clueless about the fate of the vaccination drive at private hospitals in their jurisdiction after May 1. They clarified that it would continue at government/PCMC-run vaccination centres according to the availability of stock.
The rural parts of Pune would continue with the vaccination drive at private and public hospitals even after May 1, Ayush Prasad, chief executive officer (CEO), Pune Zilla Parishad, said. “We shall be continuously supplying doses to private hospitals in our limits. We supply approximately 3,000-4,000 doses to them daily,” he said.
The Maharashtra government on Wednesday made it clear that it would be deferring the Covid vaccination drive for the 18-44 year age group from May 1 because of constraints of vaccine availability. The new vaccine policy stipulates that the state government and private hospitals arrange for their own procurement.
Sanjay Lalwani, medical director of Bharati Hospital — one of the biggest Covid vaccination centres in the city — said, “Currently, 90% vaccination is done with Covishield and, hence, SII remains our first major point of supply. SII officials told us that they would require at least 2-3 months to ramp up production.”
According to the PMC officials, the decision of stopping the supply of vaccines to private hospitals has been taken after the state government’s directive. “We will take a call about providing vaccines to private hospitals if we get any directives from the state government,” said Suryakant Deokar, immunisation officer of the PMC.
Deokar said the civic body would continue to vaccinate beneficiaries in the PMC-run hospitals after May 1. “Yes, the drive will continue. It will, however, be subject to stock availability,” he said.
Sanjay Deshmukh, assistant director (medical) of health services, Pune circle, said government and private vaccination sites had been told to exhaust their stock by April 30, as the guidelines after it would be conveyed accordingly.
Pimpri Chinchwad municipal commissioner Rajesh Patil said the inconsistent provision of vaccine stock had led to an inconsistent response to the drive. “We had aimed at around 25,000 vaccinations per day, but it has not been possible because of the supply shortage,” he said.
There are 580 vaccination centres in the Pune district. Of them, about 200 vaccination centres are in private sector/hospitals.