West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday said that the state government is making arrangements to provide free COVID-19 vaccine to the people of the state.
"I am happy to announce that our government is making arrangements to facilitate the administration of COVID-19 vaccine to all the people of the state without any cost," she said in a statement.
Mamata Banerjee's announcement comes months ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.
According to reports, the COVID-19 vaccination drive in West Bengal is expected to begin by next Thursday. West Bengal health department has revealed that initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are likely to be administered to health workers by January 14.
Meanwhile, West Bengal's COVID-19 tally rose to 5,59,886 on Saturday as 787 more people tested positive for the infection, while 20 fresh fatalities pushed the state's coronavirus death toll to 9,922, a health bulletin said.
As many as 978 people have been cured of the disease, taking the recovery rate among the coronavirus patients in the state to 96.79 per cent, it said. North 24 Parganas district reported the highest number of new cases at 224, followed by Kolkata (193), the bulletin said.
Kolkata and North 24 Parganas districts reported the highest number of fresh fatalities at five each, followed by Howrah (four). The state now has 8,034 active COVID-19 cases, while 5,41,930 people have recovered from the disease so far, the bulletin said. West Bengal has so far tested over 74.06 lakh samples for COVID-19, including 34,221 in the last 24 hours, it added.
India will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world's largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers. The decision, the government said on Saturday, was taken at a high-level meeting where Modi reviewed the status of COVID-19 and vaccine preparedness across states and union territories.
(Inputs from ANI and PTI)