Most private hospitals in Kolkata said they were not procuring Covid-19 vaccine doses for children in the 12-14 age group because they suspect there will not be enough takers.
The Centre on Tuesday announced that children between 12 and 14 years will be vaccinated against Covid from March 16. The children will be given Biological E’s Corbevax.
Two doses of the vaccine have to be administered 28 days apart.
There are approximately 30 lakh children in the 12-14 age group in the state, said Ajay Chakraborty, Bengal’s director of health services.
A number of private hospitals said they would not procure Corbevax because they feel there would not be much demand for the vaccine at their facilities.
The hospitals already have large stocks of Covaxin and Covishield because there are almost no takers among children between 15 and 18 years and others.
Officials of private hospitals said the vaccine footfall has come down sharply after the daily Covid cases reduced. Also, they said, most schools organised vaccination programmes for their students in the 15 to 18 age group and parents preferred to get their children inoculated there, instead of hospitals.
An official of a private clinic in south Kolkata said they had “practically shut down” their vaccination unit because of lack of demand. “We don’t have plans to buy Corbevax,” the official said.
The RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences wants to wait and watch before deciding to buy Corbevax.
“We are not buying Corbevax because we are not sure about the demand. We will wait and watch for a few weeks. If there is any demand from individual recipients or schools, we’ll plan to procure," said R. Venkatesh, regional director, east, Narayana Health, which runs the RN Tagore hospital.
The hospital had procured 4,500 doses of Covaxin for children aged between 15 and 18. More than half the doses were unused.
“We conducted outreach camps to exhaust the stocks but there are 1,900 doses and they will expire in May,” said Venkatesh.
The Mukundapur hospital has 1,300 doses of Covishield. “With a daily footfall of 20 to 30 at the vaccination camp, it would be difficult to finish the stocks,” he said.
Peerless Hospital, too, has decided not to procure Corbevax unless there is enough demand. An official of the hospital said they received just two queries for Corbevax doses on Wednesday, a day after the Centre’s announcement.
“Unlike in the initial days of the Covid vaccination drive last year, procuring vaccines now is not difficult. It’s difficult to exhaust the stocks. So unless there is enough demand, we will not procure Corbevax,” said Sudipta Mitra, chief executive of Peerless.
The hospital, which has 8,000 doses of Covishield that will expire in May, is having around 15 recipients every day.
Four schools have confirmed a tie-up with Belle Vue Clinic to get their students vaccinated. “The schools are calculating the number of recipients. Once we get a figure from these schools, we will place orders (for Corbevax),” said Pradip Tondon, CEO of Belle Vue.
Pratyush Srivastava, zonal head, Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, said: “The hospital is looking at the possibility of procuring Corbevax.”