Explained: Electronic vouchers can expand reach of COVID-19 vaccines to economically weaker sections
The electronic vouchers allows a person to get a voucher for his maid or driver, and get them inoculated against COVID-19
New Delhi: India’s new policy, which promises free jabs for all adults in government facilities, also introduces a system that allows a person who can pay for COVID-19 vaccines to help others get inoculated at private hospitals through what authorities call non-transferrable electronic vouchers.
"To promote the spirit of 'Lok Kalyan', use of non-transferable electronic vouchers which can be redeemed at private vaccination centres, will be encouraged. This would enable people to financially support vaccination of economically weaker sections (EWS) at private vaccination centres,” read the policy document issued on Tuesday.
How will it work?
In simple words, this means a person can buy one of these vouchers online and send it to another person, who can produce it at a private vaccination centre and get inoculated. According to some reports, these vouchers will be approved by the Reserve Bank of India. To be sure, the Centre has announced it will procure 75 percent of the vaccines made in the country and distribute them free of cost, while private hospitals will buy the remaining 25 percent from vaccine manufacturers and continue to charge beneficiaries for the shots.
How will the vouchers help?
As the government’s vaccination policy document pointed out, this will encourage the idea of “Lok Kalyan”, or people’s welfare. For example, a person willing to pay can get a voucher for his maid or driver, and aid in his or her vaccination.
What does non-transferrable mean?
Although the policy document did not delve into the details, it seems the vouchers bought against a person’s name cannot be transferred to another. At the same time, the person buying it should be able to send it to a beneficiary electronically so that s/he can produce it at the vaccination centres. According to some reports, these vouchers will be downloadable and have to scanned at hospitals.
Will the beneficary still need to book an appointment through CoWIN?
It is not clear if people with electronic vouchers can walk straight into a vaccination centre, or if they should book appointments and select a hospital through CoWIN first.
But now that walk-in registrations have been allowed for all age groups, it could be likely that prior appointments would not be needed, though the drive — like those for other groups — will depend on vaccine availability at the facility in question.
How much will vouchers cost and where should one buy them?
This part, too, is not immediately clear with authorities likely to spell out the terms soon.
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