Corona warriors asked to pay for second dose or go to govt. centres

Healthcare personnel including doctors, nurses, lab technicians and medical students who reported for the second round of COVID-19 vaccinations on Tuesday were allegedly asked to pay for the dose, much to their ire.

“These are the frontline corona warriors who worked round the clock at government and private health facilities treating COVID-19 patients risking their own lives. Some of them are still treating COVID-19 patients. It is unfair to ask them to pay for the vaccine or stand in long queues at government hospitals for getting it for free,” Kiran Deshmukh, Deputy Coordinator, COVID-19 Committee of the Mahadevappa Rampure Medical College (MRMC), said.

Falling numbers

As per data from MRMC and Basaveshwara Teaching & General Hospital attached to it, as many as 1,200 healthcare personnel were given the first dose.

Of these, only around 200 were administered the second dose on February 25 and 26 before the vaccine portal was down for three days. When the remaining workers went for the second shot on Tuesday, they were asked to pay.

Similarly, of the 343 healthcare workers who had been given the first dose of the vaccine at United Hospital, another private facility in Kalaburagi, only 27 were given the second dose free of cost on Tuesday. “The second dose of the vaccination has been stopped for the last three days and there was no communication from the government on the issue,” Dr. Vikram Siddareddy, Chairman and Managing Director of the hospital, said.

‘Feel betrayed’

The Kalaburagi city branch of Indian Medical Association (IMA) has written to Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner on the issue. “Healthcare professionals and supportive staff at private hospitals cooperated with the district administration during the COVID-19 crisis and [it] is unfortunate that the government is asking them to pay for the second dose at the same centre where they have treated COVID-19 patients. We feel betrayed,” stated the letter.

Portal issue

District Health and Family Welfare Officer Rajashekhar Mali pleaded helplessness citing the fresh guidelines from the Centre.

“We have a limited number of government vaccination centres and we have been asked not to increase their number for a couple of days as there is some problem in the vaccine portal. As per fresh guidelines, everyone, be they ordinary persons or frontline health workers, who want to get their vaccine at private hospitals, will have to pay. We will supply the vaccine to private facilities at ₹150 a dose,” he said.

Minister’s response

When contacted, Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said the issue had not come to his notice.

“Complete vaccination (both the doses) is free for all healthcare and frontline workers. If anyone is being asked to pay, we will look into it and set that right,” he told The Hindu.

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