Due to limited stock, larger hospitals which received vials of Covaxin, are not advertising availability of the shot. It is being administered only if beneficiaries expressly demand it.
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Rajendra Cholan P, special commissioner, health, BBMP, admitted stock is limited which is why vials were supplied only to hospitals that have more than one vaccination site. “There are 24 centres in BBMP limits administering Covaxin,” Cholan said.
The state government supplied 50,000 doses of Covaxin to Bengaluru city. Each Covaxin vial contains 20 doses, which means more doses of the vaccine are wasted compared to Covishield.
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Manipal Hospitals on Old Airport Road is one centre that provides Covaxin. “We offer it only to those who ask. We are still administering more doses of Covishield than Covaxin,” said Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, chairman, Manipal Hospitals.
The head of a government hospital said: “If there are not enough people seeking Covaxin, opening one vial of 20 doses leads to a lot of waste. We don’t talk about it ourselves. We provide it only if people are keen.”
A senior citizen couple from Giringar, who were keen on taking Covaxin, got the jab on Thursday at PMSSY hospital inside Victoria Hospital campus. “It wasn’t easy to find out which hospital gives Covaxin,” the couple told TOI. “We had to call several hospitals and ask and finally we stumbled on the information that one of the sites in Victoria Hospital campus is administering Coavxin. We registered online and got it.” But booking a slot seeking Covaxin is next to impossible on the Co-Win portal. “Once we open a vial, we need to give it to 20 people within four hours,” Dr Yatheesh Govindiah, unit head, Apollo Hospitals, Jayanagar, said. “Unless someone asks for it, we do not open a vial. We haven’t used Covaxin yet.”
He said until vials with single doses are made available, a certain amount of planning is necessary to avoid wastage.
Fear of wastage
Besides, since hospitals are currently buying vaccines from the government, they pay for the entire vial. This means the cost of doses that are wasted are borne by hospitals. Because of this, hospitals are reluctant to open vials of Covaxin if they do not have enough beneficiaries.
“Waste is borne by hospitals and we have not asked for a reimbursement,” confirmed Dr HM Prasanna, president, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA). “Currently, Covishield waste is about 10-15% in member hospitals. Hospitals are also ensuring that they open a vial only if there are 10 people waiting. Covaxin wastage data is not yet known.”
Some private hospitals such as Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, are still awaiting a supply of Covaxin. “There could be people who had taken the first dose of Covaxin in other states who come here seeking the second dose. We too will soon receive a stock of Covaxin vials too. However, some planning is required to ensure there is no waste,” said Dr Priya Sreedharan, medical director of the hospital.