Starting from April 1, all those above 45 years of age, regardless of comorbidities, would be eligible for Covid vaccination, the Union Government announced on Tuesday.
Officials and health experts welcomed the announcement, saying in view of the current spike, this was indeed a good decision, as half of the country’s population would be covered.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, while briefing the media on Tuesday, said people who were 45-plus ''should immediately register and get vaccinated, as it is a shield against the disease.” He said the decision was taken after discussion and on the advice of the taskforce and scientists.
Last week, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray had sought vaccination for this category at a virtual meeting with PM Modi.
Dr Rahul Pandit, Director, Critical Care, Fortis Hospitals Mumbai & member, Maharashtra COVID Taskforce, said the decision to vaccinate people above 45 years of age had come at the right time, as the state is witnessing a daily surge in cases.
“The decision to start vaccinating people who are 45 years and above, with or without comorbidities, comes at a very crucial time when India is on the brink of a second wave. Citizens should not delay getting vaccinated and help the country in overcoming this public health emergency, one dose at a time. Don’t let your guard down; be responsible towards yourself and others,” he said.
Dr Deepak Baid, president, Association of Medical Consultants, said while the AMC has welcomed the Centre’s decision, it was time the state government increased its manpower for the drive and the centralised CoWin portal too functioned properly, to rule out problems at the vaccine centres. “This decision has come as a boon for everyone and there are crores of people above 45 years of age. There is likely to be a rush at the vaccine centres. But before that, all the facilities should be in place and there should be no mismanagement at the vaccine centres. Meanwhile, the state government should increase the number of centres so that the vaccination drive can be speeded up,” he said.