Covid-19 vaccination has started all over the country. The government has announced plans to vaccinate senior citizens and people in the vulnerable categories during the ongoing phase. Recently, Wipro Chairman Azim Premji said that India can immunise around 500 million people if the government engages the private industry. There are many others who echo this sentiment. The massive scale of vaccination is what has necessitated the integration of private sector healthcare providers into the process. The private sector has already cemented its role in the fight against Covid-19 by helping accelerate testing and also in managing home isolated Covid-19 positive patients. This is a positive indication and augurs well for their involvement ahead as well to complement the government’s efforts.

Visiting a hospital for vaccination works best for those who are willing and have the time or ability to go on the appointed hour. When we look around us, despite all the awareness about the pandemic and the eagerness about the vaccine, there is a sizable section of people who are reluctant. This reluctance is caused by multiple factors such as the lack of adequate information and clarity about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. The other challenge is around the next phase of vaccination covering other categories including corporate employees. Infosys recently announced that it was looking at partnering with healthcare providers to vaccinate employees and their immediate families. In this light, if the government integrates the out-of-hospital healthcare companies into the vaccination drive then it would become possible to provide access to vaccination for corporates and their employees in a faster manner.

According to a recent report by EY, there is an immense scope for collaboration between various private players and public entities. Such a collaboration can augment physical and human infrastructure and technology capabilities for rolling out the vaccination programme.

Home healthcare providers like us have extensive experience in administering vaccines to people at their locations. We also have the systems and wherewithal to undertake this process. With the government’s permission, we can connect with large employee pools in organisations as well as RWAs, group housing societies and educational institutions etc. This would then make it possible to bring everyone under the fold in an expeditious and effective manner. Organisation wide drives or the mass vaccination of entire apartment blocks can be undertaken in a quick and streamlined manner.

Alongside making it possible for more people to receive the vaccine faster, the permission to home healthcare providers will also address the reluctance issue. Individuals might be hesitant in getting the dose due to the lack of information, but a larger number of people are likely to comply when the organisation or RWA asks everyone to get vaccinated. As a part of the drive, it would become possible to reach out to people and address their concerns by disseminating information related to vaccine efficiency and safety.

Another key challenge currently is the lack of access for the bedridden and elderly. It is difficult for this category to visit any hospital even when they are willing to get vaccinated. This is why it becomes crucial to allow accredited home healthcare providers to get people vaccinated within their homes.

This of course requires that we follow government approved protocols for all part of the process, vaccine storage on site, verification, inoculation, emergency management and Adverse effect tracking and reporting etc.

People can be registered on a portal and the data related to vaccines administered can be subsequently uploaded on the CO-WIN portal of the Government of India. This way, end-to-end service can be managed without burdening the government platform. Alternatively, arrangements can also be made to cater to people registering for vaccination on the CO-WIN portal and seeking community /home/office vaccination.

Whichever way the government decides to integrate the services, home healthcare providers are ready and capable of playing a key role in the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

Views are personal. The author is MD and CEO, Portea Medical. She was also a part of Fortune India's Most Powerful Women (MPW) in Business list for the year 2020.

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