In a major development, the Centre on Tuesday permitted all private hospitals to give COVID vaccine and also asked the states and union territories to utilise the optimum capacity of private medical facilities empanelled under three categories.

It asked them to utilise the optimum capacity of all private hospitals empanelled under the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and the state health insurance schemes to enable them to effectively function as CVCs.

Even those private hospitals which are not under any central and state insurance schemes can also be utilised as vaccination sites, it said.

“Private hospitals not empanelled under the above-mentioned three categories have also been permitted to operate as CVCs if they have adequate number of vaccinators, adequate space for observation of the vaccinated, adequate cold chain arrangement and adequate arrangement for management of Adverse Events Following Immunisation(AEFI),” the statement said.

Around 50 lakh people have self-registered for vaccination through CoWIN since the portal was opened for registration, Ram Sevak Sharma, chairman of the empowered panel on Covid vaccination, said on Tuesday.

“The actual numbers could vary up to 2 crores since the portal can register four beneficiaries with just one mobile number. We count only the mobile numbers, so I think the figures may be more than that,” he said while addressing a press briefing of the Union Health Ministry.

 Phase 3 of Covid vaccination covering 27 crore people above the age of 60 years and those above 45 with comorbidities started on Monday. Around three crore healthcare and frontline workers were vaccinated in the first two phases of the vaccination drive.

Vaccines are being provided free of charge at government institutions and on a payment basis in private healthcare facilities. All private hospitals can charge Rs 150 for vaccines and Rs 100 as service charges, as fixed by the Central government.