Many private hospitals in the city are now forced to do what Kolkata Municipal Corporation was doing earlier — administer Covid vaccines only on days when there are at least 10 or more recipients.
Many recipients, who are approaching the private vaccination centres have to wait for days to get vaccinated.
Several private hospitals said because of the low footfall of recipients, a huge number of vaccine doses were getting wasted.
Each vial of Covaxin and Covishield vaccines contains 10 to 11 doses.
Doctors and officials involved in the vaccination process said the vials once opened can only be used within four hours.
However, because of the low turnout, many private vaccination centres were getting only four to five recipients a day.
A few months back, there would be hundreds of vaccine recipients, most of them without prior appointments, would queue up at the private and government vaccination centres for hours.
Now, many of these centres have less than 10 people coming every day. So, these hospitals have switched to prior appointment-based vaccination.
AMRI Hospitals is not administering the Covid vaccine if there are less than 10 recipients in a day. This policy of the hospital is applicable in all its three units.
“There was a huge wastage of vaccine so for the last few weeks we are administering vaccination only if enough people have booked their appointments,” said Rupak Barua, group CEO, AMRI.
“We are conducting drives on those days of the week when at least 10 recipients are booked,” he said.
Belle Vue Clinic is forced to turn away people who are walking in without an appointment to take the vaccine, if there are not enough recipients, said officials.
“The few people who are walking in are requested to wait till 12 noon. If by then we do not have at least 10 recipients then those who had walked in are asked to come on the day when enough people would be there,” said Pradip Tondon, the CEO of Belle Vue.
RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, at present, gets around 30 to 40 vaccine recipients every day, but most of them are taking Covishield.
The hospital had more than 1,000 people waiting up for vaccination in a day a few months back.
“Our main problem is with Covaxin which has very few takers. So, we are focussing on pre-booking of vaccines now,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director, east, of Narayana Health which runs the RN Tagore hospital.
“If in a single day there are not enough people to take Covaxin, we are asking those who have walked in to come on another particular day,” said Venkatesh.
He said a few weeks back when they were opening the vials without ensuring the adequate number of recipients, then two to three doses would get wasted every day.
A CMC official said the vaccination centres of the civic body were still following the same policy of opening a vial if an adequate number of people were available. “There is no point in wasting vaccines,” the official added.
The Telegraph had earlier reported how many private vaccination centres have stopped the service because of lack of demand.
The new policies are also causing inconvenience for some.
A resident of Gariahat in south Kolkata had tried to book slots for vaccination for his son, who could not take the shot earlier because he had Covid, and the booster dose for his mother-in-law.
However, after waiting for four days, the hospital did not give any slot, he said.