New Delhi: As the next phase of the Covid vaccination drive is slated to commence in two days, 21 per cent of Indians are likely to take their vaccines on payment basis at private hospitals, a survey has revealed.
In the upcoming round, citizens above 60 years of age, and people above 45 years of age with co-morbidities will be eligible for the vaccination. Meanwhile, the cumulative number of coronavirus vaccine doses administered to healthcare and frontline workers has crossed 1.42 crore in the country.
The government has decided to allow close to 24,000 private hospitals across the country to start inoculation of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines in the next round of vaccination programme come March 1. It is likely to be priced at Rs 250 per dose. Government hospitals will continue the vaccination at no cost to citizens.
Taking cognisance of recent development of permitting private hospitals to vaccinate senior citizens aged over 60 and those with co-morbidities aged over 45, ‘LocalCircles’ conducted a survey to understand the percentage of people that would prefer getting the vaccine at a private hospital on payment basis and what is the maximum price citizens are willing to pay.
The survey, which received more that 16,000 responses from people located in 266 districts of India, showed that 21 per cent Indians are likely to take their vaccine on payment basis at a private hospital.
The majority of 35 per cent of citizens said they “will be taking the vaccine at a government centre”, while 21 per cent said they “will be taking it through a private hospital”. There were also 27 per cent of citizens who said they “will take it but are not sure how”.
Further breaking down the poll, it has been learnt that 5 per cent of citizens “have already taken the vaccine”, while 6 per cent of citizens said “can’t say”, and another 6 per cent said they “do not have any member of the family who meets the above criteria”.
It is noteworthy that another 27 per cent citizens plan to take the vaccine but are currently unsure about whether they will go to a private hospital or a government centre. This indicates that if the private hospital vaccination drive takes off, many more could opt for it given a better experience.
About 75 per cent of outpatient care in India and 55 per cent of inpatient care in India is provided by the private healthcare sector. Though the vaccine at a government centre will be free, there is a general preference for private healthcare in India.
The surveyor next tried to understand the tentative perception as to how much are people willing to pay for two doses if any of their family members are eligible for the vaccine in this next phase. In response, 17 per cent said “up to Rs 200”, 22 per cent said “up to Rs 300”, 24 per cent said “up to Rs 600”, 16 per cent said “up to Rs 1,000”, and 6 per cent said “above Rs 1,000”, while 15 per cent couldn’t say.
The findings of the poll suggests that 63 per cent of those planning to take the COVID-19 vaccine in the next phase at a private hospital will not pay more than Rs 600 in total charges for two doses.
This indicates that the government must make all attempts to ensure that the private hospitals get the vaccine at the lowest cost possible so they can deliver within this budget specified by the majority of citizens.