Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday announced that hospitals can offer coronavirus vaccinations any time of the day, and would not have to necessarily stick to a fixed schedule while inoculating citizens.
“The time constraint has been abolished to increase the speed,” Vardhan wrote on Twitter. “Citizens of the country can now get vaccinated 24x7 at their convenience.”
The health minister was replying to a report by the Dainik Bhaskar, which said that private hospitals in the country can choose any time window to vaccinate citizens.
However, since all hospitals, both private and government ones, involved in the inoculation drive are linked by the government’s CoWIN app and website, the flexibility in the timings will be applicable to both, according to NDTV.
Vardhan credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making arrangements to expedite the inoculation drive, saying he was not just concerned about the health of the citizens, but was also conscious about not wasting their time.
Earlier on Tuesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said that the government has done away with the 9 am to 5 pm vaccination session timeslot. “If the hospital has the capacity, the system [Co-Win 2.0] permits the hospital to do vaccinations even after 5 pm,” he said. “They need to do it in consultation with state governments.”
The health ministry said this was also being done to avoid crowding at vaccination sites.
“We did not want to divide time into compartments,” Bhushan had said. “It can be morning or afternoon, depending on hospital capacity... It’s an important feedback that overcrowding is happening. We will make changes in the system to prevent overcrowding at vaccination sites.”
India began the second phase of its coronavirus vaccination drive on March 1. In this phase, people above 60 years of age, and those who are 45 or more and suffering from comorbidities, are now eligible for the vaccinations. This is free at government facilities, while private centres are offering it at a capped price of Rs 250 per dose.
Around 10,000 private hospitals under Ayushman Bharat, more than 600 hospitals under the Central Government Health Scheme, and other private hospitals enrolled under state schemes were designated as vaccination centres.
Meanwhile, India on Wednesday reported 14,989 coronavirus cases, taking the country’s tally to 1,11,39,516, data from the health ministry showed. Deaths jumped by 98 to 1,57,346. India’s active case count stood at 1,70,126, while 1,08,12,044 people have recovered from the infection.