In a major development, the Union Health Ministry on Monday said it was allowing on-site, or walk-in, registration for the 18-44 age group at government COVID vaccination centres.
The Health Ministry said that this feature will not be available for Private CVCs presently, and the Private CVCs will have to publish their vaccination schedules exclusively with slots for online appointments.
"This feature will be used only upon the decision of the respective State/UT Government to do so. State/UT must decide on the opening of on-site registrations/facilitated cohorts' registration and appointments for 18-44 years age group based on the local context just as an additional measure to minimize vaccine wastage and for facilitating vaccination of eligible beneficiaries in the age group 18-44 years," the ministry said in a statement.
The Union Health Ministry has advised the states and union territories to issue clear instructions to all District Immunization Officers to strictly adhere to decisions of respective states and union territories government regarding the extent and manner of using the on-site registration and appointment feature for 18 to 44 years age group.
It further said that the fully reserved sessions can also be organized for providing vaccination services to the beneficiaries belonging to facilitated cohorts.
"Wherever such fully reserved sessions are organized, all efforts must also be made to mobilize such beneficiaries in sufficient numbers," read the release.
The Union Health Ministry has further advised states and union territories that abundant caution should be exercised and extreme due care should be taken while opening up on-site registration and appointment for 18-44 years age group, in order to avoid overcrowding at vaccination centres.
The ministry said the facility of only online appointment mode initially to people in the age group of 18 to 44 years helped to avoid overcrowding at the vaccination centres.
According to the health ministry, some doses may still be left unutilized in case the online appointee beneficiaries do not turn up on the day of vaccination due to any reason.
In such cases, on-site registration of a few beneficiaries may be necessary to minimize vaccine wastage, it said.
"Even though CoWIN provides for features such as registration of up to 4 beneficiaries with a mobile number, facilitated registration and appointments through applications, such as Arogya Setu and Umang and through the Common Service Centres etc., people requiring facilitated cohort's facility and those without access to the internet or smartphones or mobile phones may still have limited access for vaccination," read the release.
The coverage of vaccination was expanded to people in the age group of 18 to 44 years on May 1, 2021, with the implementation of the Liberalised Pricing & Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy.
India crossed a significant landmark in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic after the cumulative number of coronavirus vaccine doses for the 18-44 age group under Phase-3 of the vaccination drive administered in the country crossed one crore on Monday, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country exceeded 19.60 crores today under Phase-3 of the nationwide Vaccination Drive.