Covid-19: India Inc scrambles to get staff vaccinated

NEW DELHI: Leading corporate brands have started to tap private healthcare providers to conduct on-site and off-campus Covid vaccination drives for their entire workforce, with costs to be borne by them. The move comes with a little over a week left before inoculation coverage of all adults against Covid begins in the country.
Inoculation against the disease is key to India safely reopening large parts of its economy, production facilities and office complexes. Though not mandatory, companies are hopeful that all their employees will take the vaccines as India allows people of 18 and above to get immunised against coronavirus from May 1.
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Organisations like Infosys, IndiGo, Taj, Mahindra & Mahindra, Apeejay Surrendra Park and ITC have been facilitating Covid jabs for employees over 45 years in line with the current eligibility norms through partnerships with hospitals. Now, they will be expanding their collaborations to get the rest of their staff vaccinated too. “So far, over 81% of our eligible employees have been vaccinated. We look forward to these numbers going up significantly from May 1,” said K Raheja Corp’s chief HR officer Urvi Aradhya.

On Thursday, Wipro will be organising its first Covid vaccination camp at its Electronics City campus in Bengaluru. “We are making necessary efforts to roll out vaccination camps across other major offices in India,” said a Wipro spokesperson. Sony India, which has extended the mediclaim policy to cover Covid treatment even under home quarantine, is in the process of setting up vaccination camps for its staff.
On Wednesday, the Indian Banks Association decided that vaccination of 10 lakh bank employees must be given top priority and costs for the same should be reimbursed. But the association left it to individual banks to arrange for tie-ups with hospitals. “We are working with our medical partners to organise a vaccination camp on premises for our employees, subject to approval from state and relevant authorities,” said IDFC First Bank.
TCS is “working out modalities of vaccination drive in direct partnership with suppliers”. Likewise, Infosys is “in discussions with healthcare providers and vaccine suppliers”, according to its HR head Richard Lobo. ITC head-HR Amitav Mukherji said, “Designated managers have been nominated to facilitate vaccination across locations in partnership with healthcare facilities.”
On Wednesday, the Serum Institute of India said it will sell Covisheild vaccine to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose. While companies would like employees to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, they are also concerned about the availability of vaccines. “Our plan is to vaccinate everybody, but there is too much complexity still to be worked out on that front, including vaccine availability,” said a Ford India spokesperson.
“We are seeing a shortage of vaccines at our partner hospitals and hesitancy in some team members to avail the vaccines, which we are countering by making them aware of the benefits,” said Apeejay Surrendra Park VP (HR) Sujata Gain, adding that, however, 70% of employees above the age of 45 have been vaccinated.
“We are hopeful that the majority of our employees will soon receive the first dose of the vaccine now that the government has given the permit for people above 18 years to get vaccinated,” said a Hindustan Unilever spokesperson.