A million people in Tamil Nadu would get free COVID-19 vaccines at private hospitals before the end of this year. Companies in the state, largely around 1,500 of them, have pledged to fund this drive through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) plans. They will give Rs 75 crore to begin with.
Chief Minister MK Stalin launched this programme in Chennai’s Kauvery Hospital on Wednesday, where a few hundred people had gathered to take vaccines.
A Chennai resident, Meena, got her first dose for free at this private hospital, minutes after she walked in. This is Tamil Nadu government’s new strategy to use the 25 per cent vaccines allocated to private hospitals. So far only 5 per cent has been used.
Private hospitals would also offer free doses as per their CSR plans, besides waiving the service fee for the sponsored vaccination.
“First we would vaccinate all employees, their families and communities around,” CII Tamil Nadu chairman Dr S Chandrakumar told NDTV.
On what this opportunity would mean to Chennai, Mr Gagandeep Singh Bedi, commissioner of Greater Chennai Corporation, said, “We want to go for a target of one lakh every day. We have been going around 30,000 to 40,000 daily.”
In another first, Tamil Nadu has achieved highest extra doses inoculating nearly six lakh additional people. Every vial with 10 doses has a little more called overfill, factoring in wastage.
Health workers in the state have managed to inoculate 11 or 12 people with zero wastage and full utilisation of overfill.
Complimenting health workers, collectors and commissioners for this, Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan said, “We were able to extract 11 doses consistently. Earlier, when there was vaccine apathy, final vial used to be left unused. We have organised that also. We have reduced syringe-based wastage also.”
Tamil Nadu’s population is over six crore. It has so far administered a little over two crore doses. Only 6.5 per cent people have taken both doses.
The initial vaccine hesitancy has slowed down in the state. Now the demand is high and the state says it can administer eight lakh doses every day. However, it gets only around two lakh doses due to short supply. Soon after forming the government, Mr Stalin tacitly alleged that BJP sates with lesser population get more doses, which the centre had denied saying the allocation is based on utilisation.
The centre has not yet granted the one crore additional allocation to what the state called “correct the imbalance in allocation”. Now the new state government is adopting what it calls smart ways to tap every avenue available to inoculate maximum population before the likely third wave.