- By Dr. Girdhar Gyani, Director General, Association of Healthcare Providers-India (AHPI)
As the fear of the second wave engulfs us, we need to pay serious attention to the Prime Minister’s reference to an emergency-like situation, if COVID-19 hits rural India. Hence, we need to focus on accelerating the vaccination drive and it is high time that it should be open for everyone above 45 years of age and subject to production capacity, it could be made available to all above 18-years of age. Universal Vaccination by covering 75% of the population by next year should be our top priority as people below 18 years will have to wait for some time. With the support of private providers, India can cover all vulnerable groups in general and front-line people like teachers, bank employees, hotel staff, and all other service organizations.
Recently, we had urged the Prime Minister to allow all private sector hospitals (there are close to 25000 private hospitals with 30+ beds) for vaccination. This move can increase our capacity to 20-million doses per day. New mutations are being found and already the UK, South African, and Brazilian mutations have been detected in a large number of people in India. The higher speed of spread can jeopardize Mission Vaccination. Hence, the government should open up the vaccination through an open market to hospitals at an appropriate rate.
As we are experiencing lots of available vaccination capacity by healthcare providers, it is time we open up the vaccination for the entire population. This will safeguard the well-being of population and help open up the industry and therefore the economy.