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India Inc works on getting all employees inoculated, sourcing jabs for inhouse drives

India Inc works on getting all employees inoculated, sourcing jabs for inhouse drives

Companies are chalking out plans to get all employees vaccinated against Covid-19, as everyone aged 18 and above becomes eligible from Saturday.

Reliance Industries

last week announced its plans to roll out a vaccination programme for all employees and their family members above 18 years of age from May 1. RPG Group, Vedanta, Marico and Emami told ET that they are in talks with vaccine makers to directly source the injections for their staff. Some like ITC, Panasonic, Axis Bank and HDFC Bank have tied up with hospitals such as Apollo, Max Healthcare and Fortis.

But how soon they can vaccinate the entire workforce depends on availability of the vaccines, as there are already reports of a shortage. Companies that are in talks with manufacturers haven’t yet got any commitment on supplies, people aware of the discussions said on the condition of anonymity.

“We are in touch with both Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute to get direct supplies for our employees … We are getting in touch with Dr Reddy’s and Cadila too,” said Harsh Goenka, chairman, RPG Group. “We are encouraging all our employees to get vaccinated.”

Agencies

Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India, the two companies currently supplying vaccines in India, did not respond to ET’s emails seeking comment, till press time on Tuesday. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is expected to soon start supplying the Russia-developed Sputnik V, while Cadila is developing a vaccine for Covid-19.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing two unnamed government officials, that India could allow state authorities and companies to import Covid-19 vaccines. This would allow Indian companies looking to quickly vaccinate their staff to source the vaccines from foreign drug makers such as Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Getting the entire workforce vaccinated will help companies get employees back to office and run factories with more certainty. Some such as RPG have started inoculating employees at factories. While such drives were targeted at the 45-plus age group, from May 1, the entire workforce can be inoculated.

“We are exploring both options — of tying up with healthcare service providers and also in talks with manufacturers,” said Saugata Gupta, managing director, Marico.

Buying Vaccines in Bulk
“But it depends on the supply,” said Gupta of Marico. “We have a young workforce with an average age of 28-29 and are extending vaccination to both employees as well as their immediate family members.”

Vedanta group chief executive Sunil Duggal and Emami group director Aditya Agarwal said they were in talks with manufacturers to buy vaccines in bulk for the staff. Emami also has plans to hold vaccination camps for employees, tying up with the group’s AMRI Hospitals.

IT sector leader

Tata Consultancy Services

has already initiated vaccination drives for its eligible employees and dependents, both at its offices and through hospital partnerships. Tata Steel, which has its own group hospitals at factory locations, has been purchasing vaccines from the government. “We are also aggressively pursuing vaccination at the workplace,” a

Tata Steel

spokesperson said.

ITC head of corporate human resources Amitav Mukherji said, “We will continue to work with private healthcare providers to vaccinate employees, families and supply chain partners.”

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