India COVID-19 Vaccination 2.0: Jabs Set To Accelerate With Private Participation!

The first phase of COVID-19 vaccination in India that started from the 16th of January 2021 aimed at inoculating around 30 million healthcare sector and frontline workers. Although so far only about half of that target and less for those having double doses has been achieved the Government of India, under pressure to speed up the process allowing participation of the private sector and also in view of the surge in new infections in several states, has decided to usher in the second phase of vaccination that aims at administering the jabs to senior citizens above 60 and people above 45 years of age with comorbidities; as per the earlier estimates this target population will be around 270 million which, of course, targeted all people above 50 with or without comorbidities. The policy decision to allow the private sector come into the picture is the welcome change in Vaccination 2.0 which is bound to accelerate the number of jabs administered, and the process begins from tomorrow, the 1st of March 2021 all over the country.


Around 20,000 private hospitals across India start administering the jabs from tomorrow under payment basis, the price per dose of vaccination being capped by the Government at Rs. 250/. More than 10,000 government hospitals/health centres will continue vaccinating free of cost. As has been decided earlier people will not be able to choose the vaccine, between Covishield (Indian version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca) and the indigenous Covaxin both of which have been declared as fully safe.


The process of registering or getting appointment for vaccination has been made easy: people will be able to register from their mobile phones on the recalibrated Co-Win app to be launched from March 1, and also on the Aarogya Setu app; they will have to fill up a simple form uploading documents in support of identity and age, and can get up to four appointments at the centres of their choice from the same mobile; people above 45 with comorbidities will have to upload a certificate from their doctors apart from the identity and age-proof documents; this process of registering can also be done at the website ; if some senior citizens are not techno-savvy they can either visit a registration center with the required documents to fill up the form or even can use the option of ‘walk-in for vaccination’ depending on availability of slots.


The Government of India has already dispelled misgivings about the related Apps of Co-Win and Aarogya Setu saying that everything has been updated and it would be a hassle-free experience for all from the target date of 1st March 2021. We hope this turns out to be the case in actual practice, and that considering the worldwide phenomena of the vaccines having some adverse events in very elderly people and people with certain medical conditions like allergy the doctors would guide them adequately for getting inoculated. It must also be ensured that the vaccination centres do not become super-spreaders in themselves as pointed out by experts.  


Meanwhile, the rise in new COVID-19 infections continues unabated in Maharashtra with cases more than 8000 a day for the last four consecutive days. Lockdowns, partial lockdowns, night curfew and other curbs have been in place in several affected districts of the state. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s deadline of 8 days for the people of Mumbai ends tomorrow, and with new cases hovering around 1000 daily in the financial capital the decisions of the state government is eagerly awaited. While a pure lockdown in Mumbai would greatly hamper the progress made in the last two-three months strict enforcement of other curbs could be an option. In Kerala, although new cases have been declining, the situation is still far from satisfactory, and spikes have also been noticed in other states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. However, Vaccination 2.0 should be welcome news for all of these states too. And of course, the widespread phenomenon of Covidiots must be kept under absolute control.