More than 1,000 people aged between 18 and 59 took their booster dose of Covid vaccines at 89 private vaccination centres in Bengal on Sunday.
The drive to administer the booster — or the precaution - dose of Covid vaccines to all individuals between 18 and 59 years was launched across the country on Sunday.
Earlier, only senior citizens, healthcare personnel and essential workers were eligible for the precaution dose.
Senior health department officials said 1,051 people in the age group of 18 to 59 received booster shots across Bengal till 6pm on Sunday. They are expecting the number to go up from Monday.
People in the 18-59 age group have to pay for booster doses, which are being administered from private hospitals and clinics.
On Sunday, many private hospitals said they were happy with the turnout for precaution doses. Several others said they had not yet launched the drive.
Some said they were waiting for more clarity on how the losses they would incur by administering the doses at prices lower than the procurement cost would be recovered.
“Nearly 40 per cent of the 10-crore population of the state are in the 18-59 age group. That is quite a number,” a health department official said on Sunday evening.
However, many of them are yet to complete the mandatory nine-month period after the second dose to become eligible for the booster.
Also, many of them who would have qualified for the booster in April or May contracted Covid in the past couple of months. According to the Centre’s directive, a person who contracts Covid should wait for at least three months after recovery before taking the booster.
Peerless Hospital gave booster shots to over 90 people in the 18-59 age group. The count at Woodlands Hospital crossed 70.
Both hospitals, like other private vaccination centres, are charging Rs 386 for a booster shot, irrespective of the vaccine, after adding a service charge and GST to the capped amount of Rs 225. The capping was announced a couple of days ago.
The RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences did not administer booster shots on Sunday.
“We had procured Covishield for Rs 630 a dose and Covaxin for Rs 1,050 a dose. We can charge Rs 386 (for each booster). So we needed clarity on how to recover the losses,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director, east, Narayana Health, which runs the RN Tagore hospital.
“On Sunday evening, we received a clarification that the manufacturers would provide us with free doses to make up for the loss. We’ll start the vaccination from Monday.”
Rupali Basu, managing director and CEO of Woodlands Multispeciality Hospital, said: “The footfall was heavy in the first two hours. We are happy with the turnout.”
Rupak Barua, group CEO of the AMRI Hospitals, said: “We will start administering booster doses from Monday at all our units.”