Why Covid-19 vaccine is not free for public, asks UP opposition leader Ram Govind Chaudhary, Yogi govt responds

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LUCKNOW: As the second phase of the nationwide mass COVID-19 vaccination drive began on Monday, Ram Govind Chaudhary, the opposition leader in the UP Legislative Assembly, had asked the Yogi Adityanath government to explain why the vaccine is not being provided free of cost as promised by the Centre earlier.

During a discussion in the state assembly, the senior Samajwadi Party leader had sought to know from the state’s Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh if the COVID vaccine will be provided free of cost to the public or some charges will be taken for the same.

Chaudhary was backed by other opposition leaders like Manoj Kumar Pandey (SP), Ajai Kumar of Congress and BSP MLAs Uma Shankar Singh and Virendra Yadav who had also demanded an explanation from the state government over the fee being charged for administering COVID vaccine to those above 45 years of age and with comorbidities.

Replying to them, UP Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh said that as per the Centre’s guidelines, the COVID vaccine is being provided free of cost to the frontline health workers only.

“The Union Health Ministry has reiterated that all COVID vaccines will be provided to beneficiaries at the government health facilities free of cost, while private facilities cannot charge the beneficiary a sum above Rs 250 per person per dose (Rs 150 for vaccines and Rs 100 as operational charges), ‘’ the UP Health Minister said.

He also cited the Centre’s guideline that the private hospitals will have to remit the cost of vaccine doses allotted to them in a designated account of the National Health Authority (NHA). The payment gateway for the same is being enabled by the NHA on their website, the Health Ministry order said.

The central government has supplied two COVID-19 vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, free of cost to the states and UTs to vaccinate healthcare workers (HCWs) and frontline workers (FLWs) and they will also be able to cover the next priority group i.E. 60 years plus age group and the age group of 45 to 59 years suffering from pre-specified co-morbidities.

The states have been requested to operationalise the linkages between the CVCs (both government and private empanelled facilities) with the nearest cold chain points for ensuring smooth vaccine delivery to (CVCs).

The second phase of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive for people above 60 years and those aged 45 and above with comorbidities will begin from Monday (March 1, 2021). People can register themselves on the government’s Co-WIN2.0 portal that will open at 9 AM on Monday.

Citizens will be able to register and book an appointment for vaccination, anytime and anywhere, using the Co-WIN 2.0 portal or through other IT applications such as Arogya Setu. Registration will open at 9 AM on March 1 at www.Cowin.Gov.In, the Health Ministry said.

All citizens that are aged, or will attain the age of 60 or more as of January 1, 2022, are eligible to register, in addition to all such citizens that are aged, or will attain the age of 45 to 59 years as of January 1, 2022, and have any of the specified 20 comorbidities.

This information was shared during the orientation workshop organised by the Union Health Ministry and the National Health Authority (NHA) for the 10,000 private hospitals under Ayushman Bharat PMJAY, more than 600 hospitals empanelled under CGHS and other private hospitals empanelled under State Government’s Health Insurance Schemes, on Co-WIN2.0.

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