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Calcutta: Private hospitals plan to resume vaccination drive

Several private hospitals that had stopped or curtailed outreach Covid vaccination camps because of shortage of doses are planning to resume or scale up the drive after receiving fresh stocks.

One of the hospitals that had postponed its outreach camps is planning to start them this week. Another hospital is planning to expand off-site vaccination, which has so far been restricted to workplaces, and bring housing complexes within its ambit. A third is trying to open more outreach camps in districts, where there is a huge demand for vaccines.

Officials of the hospitals said increasing the number of outreach camps was key to scaling up the vaccination. The number of people getting vaccinated at a hospital will not go up beyond a point, they said.

The Telegraph has reported how shortage of doses disrupted off-site vaccination. Erratic supply of doses from the Centre has resulted in many people not getting vaccinated in Calcutta.

The RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences had to postpone all outreach camps because it did not have enough vaccines in stock.

“We received 35,000 doses late on Friday. With the arrival of the new stock, we will be able to resume outreach camps,” said R. Venkatesh, the regional head of Narayana Health, which runs the RN Tagore hospital.

The hospital had to postpone eight scheduled camps, all of which had been approved by the state health department. The hospital informed the hosts and the health department that they were not in a position to hold the camps for want of vaccines.

“We will write to the health department again with the request to allow us to go ahead with the outreach camps. We are expecting to resume the camps from the middle or the end of this week,” Venkatesh said.

The hospital will also resume discussions with housing complexes and other organisations on opening more outreach camps in the coming weeks. Fresh stocks will enable them to carry on vaccination at the hospital as well as in multiple other locations till the first week of August or beyond, an official of the hospital said.

The management plans to place fresh orders so that more stocks arrive in the first week of August.

The AMRI group, which runs three hospitals in the city, is vaccinating about 1,500 people daily at the three units together. It is organising two to four outreach camps every day.

The hospital group received 25,000 doses last week. With the fresh stock, they are aiming to expand outreach vaccination in districts.

Rupak Barua, the group CEO of AMRI, said the number of vaccinations would not grow beyond a point in hospitals. “To push up the vaccination numbers, we have to organise more outreach camps and take the drive to places where more people will be comfortable taking the jabs,” he said.

AMRI is conducting outreach camps in Sodepur and Barasat in North 24-Parganas, Haldia in East Midnapore and in Burdwan. “We want to open more outreach camps in these districts and in other districts,” he said.

The rush for vaccination is more in districts because the supply there is not as much as in Calcutta.

The state health department had recently made it mandatory for city hospitals to tie up with a local private clinical establishment for opening outreach Covid vaccination camps in districts.

The chief medical officer of health of a district is supposed to arrange inspection of the site before giving the permission.

Woodlands Hospital has so far only conducted outreach camps for workplaces. Now, it is targeting housing complexes and associations to organise outreach vaccination camps.

The hospital had 29,000 vaccine doses on Sunday and is to receive 15,000 more on Monday.

“We are actively engaging with associations and housing complexes to organise outreach Covid vaccination in their places,” said Rupali Basu, the managing director of Woodlands. The Telegraph