People wait to get the Covid-19 vaccine in New Delhi on Saturday.
People wait to get the Covid-19 vaccine in New Delhi on Saturday.

New Delhi

An astronomical rise in Covid-19 cases in India on Saturday also witnessed the beginning of the third phase of vaccination drive covering the 18+ age group.

However, the exercise began in 6 states — Maharashtra, Rajasthan, UP, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Odisha. All other states and UTs have deferred vaccination for 18-44 group due to shortage of vaccine. Even in the 6 states, the drive is “token”, limited to just a few districts.

The exercise began at a time when most states have been reporting vaccine shortage contrary to the Centre’s report, claiming over 79 lakh doses (79,13,518) are still available with states/ UTs.

The Centre has claimed to have provided 16.37 crore doses (16,37,62,300) to states/UTs “free of cost” of which the total consumpti­on including wastages is 15,58,48,782 doses. Further, it has promised over 17 lakh (17,31,110) doses to the states and UTs in three 3 days.

Though vaccines are to be available for all adults below 45 from Saturday, as per the Centre’s new policy, this is contingent on states — and not the Centre — making them available to citizens. The Centre will continue to provide vaccines to states and vaccinate, for free, those over 45. On the other hand, states have to negotiate with companies the price they will buy vaccines at. This again will be from the 50% of the vaccines made and cleared by Central Drug Research Laboratory, Kasauli. The rest will continue to go to the Centre.

So far, Delhi, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have said they have ordered batches of Covaxin and Covishield. Close to 20 states have said they will be offering the vaccine free to their residents. Though vaccines for those below 45 can only be availed at private Covid-19 centres on payment, states and UTs can decide to vaccinate those below 45 from their quotas negotiated with companies by setting minimum age eligibility criteria. India has so far administered 15,49,89,635 doses since January 16 when the world’s largest inoculation exercise started.

Meanwhile, 1,693 people in the 18-44 age group in Chhattisgarh were vaccinated on Saturday. CM Bhupesh Baghel inaugurated the drive online. Officials said 1,693 people in 16 districts were vaccinated till 7 pm. The Assam govt could not rollout the third phase due to nonreceipt of vax supply from the Centre.

The Odisha government conducted a “symbolic dry run” of the vaccination for 18-44 group, ahead of its formal launch on May 3. J&K started the drive phase-wise with Srinagar and Jammu. However, the Kerala government said vaccination of 18+ will be delayed due to shortage and urged the Centre to ensure fast availability. CM Yediyurappa said the vax shortage in Karnataka will be sorted out in 3 days.

CM Arvind Kejriwal announced inoculation of 18-45 group will begin in Delhi from Monday, as it just received 4.5 lakh doses.

Vaccine Shortage

- Covid-19 vaccination for 18-44 group begins at pvt Delhi hospitals

- Jharkhand is waiting for additional vaccine stock for 3rd phase: Soren

- Vaccinations for 18+ delayed in North-eastern states due to shortage

- UP began drive in 7 districts — Lucknow, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Meerut and Bareilly.

- Over 55,000 in 18-44 age group get jab in Gujarat

- Goa unable to start drive for 18+ due to lack of doses

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Free Press Journal