Three of India’s largest hospital chains—Apollo Hospitals Enterprise, Max Healthcare Institute and Fortis Healthcare—on Friday announced that a few hospitals in their network will start vaccinating all adults from Saturday, including those in the age group 18-44 years who were not part of the vaccination drive earlier.
While Fortis Healthcare will only be using Bharat Biotech International’s Covaxin, Max Healthcare will be using Serum Institute of India’s Covishield. Apollo Hospitals will be vaccinating all adults with both Covaxin and Covishield.
All three hospitals said the expanded drive will begin with limited quantities of jabs, which will be ramped up in the coming weeks.
“Fortis will administer covid vaccines for 18+ at its centres across North India from tomorrow (1 May). Fortis centres in other cities will commence vaccination as soon as supplies are made available by authorities,” a spokesperson for Fortis Healthcare said in a statement.
For now, Max Healthcare will be making vaccines available only at its facilities in the National Capital Region—at Panchsheel Park, Patpatganj, Shalimar Bagh, Noida and Vaishali and the BLK Super Speciality Hospital at Rajinder Place, the hospital chain said in a statement.
As per government guidelines, all vaccinations will only be done through prior appointment on the government’s Co-WIN platform, and no vaccine would be administered on a walk-in basis.
Apollo Hospitals will charge ₹1,200 for administering a dose of Covaxin. The hospital will charge ₹800 for administering a dose of Covishield, wherein ₹600 will be the cost of a dose as charged by Serum Institute and ₹200 will be administration charges.
Fortis Healthcare will charge ₹1,250 per dose of Covaxin, with ₹50 as administration cost. Max Healthcare will publish its prices on its website later, a spokesperson for the company said.
The start of the vaccination drive has come at a time when the country is facing a massive surge in covid cases in the second wave, with India recording 386,773 new cases on Thursday, a record increase, while on Friday the addition of confirmed patients was at 352,435 at 10.30pm.
“The second wave has come like a tsunami with an exponential rise in the number of cases. The government’s decision to open up the vaccination program and permit private hospitals to procure vaccines directly from the manufacturers is a much-required step to counter the covid threat,” Apollo Hospitals executive vice-chairperson Shobana Kamineni said in a statement.
The start of the vaccination drive at all private hospitals contrasts with delays reported by states like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, who have said they will be unable to start vaccination due to a shortage of doses.
Even among private hospitals, it is only a few large ones that would be getting the vaccine. A spokesperson for Manipal hospitals said they will not start vaccinating all adults as there is no clarity on availability of vaccines.
Aster DM Healthcare’s hospitals in India will also not be administering covid-19 vaccines.
“We have spoken to all the major vaccine manufacturers, and none of them currently have sufficient stock for the private sector,” Harish Pillai, chief executive officer of Aster India, said in a statement.