Only 3-4 lakh vaccine doses left, how to vaccinate 18 and above: Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja on COVID-19 vaccine shortage

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja has said that there is no enough vaccination stock to inoculate all those above 18 year and plus. She said that the second dose vaccine is pending for most of those above 45 and 60 yrs of age and the state has only 3-4 lakh vaccine doses. "We are giving priority to those who need to be given the second dose vaccine," she added.

The Health Minister reminded that, "It's the duty of the Centre to supply vaccines. We are placing the order but the vaccine companies are saying that they will supply the vaccine only in May end or early June. This one month delay will be dangerous. We need vaccine urgently to save lives."

She further said that the oxygen plant in Konjikode is producing around 200 MT of oxygen. "We want that Kerala should utilise the oxygen produced from this plant but the Centre is asking us to supply oxygen from this plant to other states too," she added.Currently, Kerala's oxygen consumption is 100MT.

Besides Shailaja issued New vaccination guidelines and said, "There is no need to rush to COVID vaccination centres for this. The second dose of Covishield vaccine should be taken within 6-8 weeks and the Covaxin within 4-6 weeks. The list of those eligible to receive the second dose of vaccine at each vaccination centre will be available on the CoWIN portal. Accordingly, the managers of the vaccination centres will inform them with the help of ASHA workers and local bodies." The new guideline stated that the slot for the first dose will be allowed for online booking only after giving preference to those taking the second jab.

"To avoid crowding for spot registration at the vaccination centres those taking the second dose will be given a fixed date and time in advance. Only at that time given to those who booked their second slot should reach the centre for vaccination. Steps will be taken to ensure COVID protocols are followed at the vaccination centres," said the health minister.

"The vaccine currently available at private centres, must be used for vaccination of people before April 30. The rest of the vaccine purchased now will have to be given at the rate of Rs 250 for those above 45 years of age from May 1," she added.

Shailaja also informed that a revised central vaccination policy will be implemented from May 1 and vaccination centres at private hospitals will have to procure the vaccine directly from the vaccine manufacturers.

Meanhwile, Kerala's COVID-19 caseload crossed the 15 lakh mark on Thursday as 38,607 people, including 110 health workers, tested positive, in the highest single day surge, the state government said. The toll mounted to 5,259 with 48 more deaths.

The active cases touched 2,84,086 with 21,116 people getting cured of the infection, taking the total recoveries to 12,44,301.

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Free Press Journal