Set up vax centres in RWAs, malls, schools, airports, corporations

New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) NATHEALTH-Healthcare Federation of India, an apex body representing the ecosystem of the private healthcare sector, has submitted a set of recommendations to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the NITI Aayog on the urgent need to scale up the country’s vaccination drive by including private diagnostics labs and home care providers in the inoculation process.

The recommendations also include setting up of vaccination centres in RWAs, malls, schools, airports, and large corporations with space and staff facilities.

These steps will not only accelerate vaccination numbers at the community level but will also play a pivotal role to stem the rising cases of Covid-19 in India, effectively scaling up numbers and expanding coverage in a short span of time.

In the representation to the Health Ministry, NATHEALTH has suggested involving other healthcare providers with skilled medical workforce to ramp up to the vaccination drive.

It suggested that temporary vaccine centres can be set up in schools, malls, hotels/dormitories, airports, and large corporate houses can be created to conduct the inoculation drive as per the SOPs and operational guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Central government, which can facilitate vaccine storage, handling, administration and documentation.

The entire process will be similar to that being followed at hospitals, including registration on CoWIN, utilisation of only those nurses who have been specifically trained on COVID19 vaccination administration, infection control protocols and standards.

It advocated involving more private home healthcare industry players in order to reduce the cost of care for patients and the burden on the stretched hospitals system – Home healthcare industry has a huge potential in preventing the spread of the infection in current times of surge.

Creation of satellite, temporary off-site community vaccination clinics/centres managed by home healthcare providers has been suggested as these centres outside of hospitals can be set up in community centres, malls, colleges, schools, stadiums, RWAs, offices of large corporations and others.

Involving certified, private diagnostic organisations can increase coverage and ensure that the general public has quick access to vaccination, especially those in the high-risk category. Large private labs already have a ready network of labs spread across India in Tier 1, 2 and semi-urban areas, along with an established cold-chain network supported by an army of trained workforce.

Phlebotomists at accredited laboratory chains are well-trained to proficiently inoculate the population with utmost compliance under the supervision of MBBS doctors. As per the official guidelines, private labs can easily create dedicated sections for registration verification vaccination and observation, if given a chance to participate in the vaccine administration drive.

Harsh Mahajan, President, NATHEALTH and Founder and Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging said: “India has 2000 labs for Covid testing now and keeping in mind the unprecedented second wave of the pandemic, we must focus on increasing the coverage of the vaccination drive and continue large scale testing in the states which are reporting high number of cases. We can utilie the infrastructure built by private diagnostics labs in the 1st wave of the pandemic. The phlebotomists at any accredited diagnostic laboratory chain are well-trained to inoculate the population with utmost compliance under the supervision of MBBS doctors.

“Home healthcare service providers and certified diagnostic labs in India have the required infrastructure and trained medical professionals to vaccinate. This will definitely help increase the coverage of the vaccination drive effectively in tier 2 and tier 3 geographies.

“Some hospitals are back to their pre-Covid levels of occupancy and also focusing on non-Covid patients. As cases surge in some pockets of India, many hospitals have also started reserving spaces and beds for Covid testing treatment. In addition, there is a need to give flexibility and convenience of access to vaccines for working professionals and dispel the fear of visiting hospitals for the elderly.

“If India wants to achieve a milestone by inoculating the entire population by the end of this year, the government should consider bringing in additional service providers in the health care Industry as it played a vital role in the initial phase of Covid response by facilitating the home isolation/remote home monitoring program for the mildly symptomatic Covid patients across many states following the guidelines laid down by MOHFW.”