New Delhi: The Centre has asked states and Union Territories to initiate legal or administrative action against private institutions which are offering packages for COVID-19 vaccination in collaboration with hotels, noting that this is in violation of prescribed guidelines.
In a letter to all states and UTs, Additional Secretary to the health ministry, Manohar Agnani, said it has come to the notice of the ministry that some private hospitals have been offering vaccination packages with hotels, against the guidelines issued for the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.
Health Ministry writes to States/UTs on some private hospitals giving package for #COVID19 Vaccination in collaboration with some hotels.
Says it is against the guidelines issued for the National Covid Vaccination Program. pic.twitter.com/qum9SqOJtW
— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) May 29, 2021
The letter says that apart from government and private vaccination centres, workplaces, and vaccination centre for the elderly and differently-abled persons set up at group housing societies, there are no other avenues to carry out vaccination.
“Necessary legal and administrative actions should be initiated against such institutions. Therefore, you are also requested to monitor and ensure that National Covid Vaccination drive is carried out as per the prescribed guidelines,” Agnani’s letter added.
Only about 3% of India‘s 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated, the lowest rate among the 10 countries with the most cases. Amidst the shortage, several states have been forced to suspend their vaccination programme for those between the 18 to 44 age groups.
NDTV has reported that amidst this overall shortage of vaccines in the country, luxury hotels’ packages “which include a comfortable stay, healthy breakfast, dinner and wifi, along with vaccination by experts from a renowned hospital and clinical consultation on request” have come in the face of substantial criticism on social media.
There have also been questions as to where the hotels were sourcing the vaccines from.
As India-both rural and urban- struggles to get vaccinated, luxury hotels in India announce vaccination package with a range to choose from. pic.twitter.com/IXZLwiktgp
— Neha Dixit (@nehadixit123) May 29, 2021
An Indian Express report notes how, even as Delhi has been forced to shut vaccination centres for ages 18 to 44 due to unavailability, private hospitals in the capital have continued to offer doses through drive-in facilities, one of which was inaugurated by Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain at Max Hospital, Saket.
(With PTI inputs)
Note: This article has been updated since publication with additional details.