A month after announcing free COVID-19 vaccination drive for 18 to 44 year olds, Maha govt issues formal order
Photo Credit: AFP

Even as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government announced free Covid vaccination for the age group of 18 to 44 years on April 28 last, the formal orders that will kickstart the process in a real sense, were issued only on Friday, May 28th. It took exactly one month for the government to issue the crucial order that forms the very basis of the ambitious programme of vaccination.

It is being said that the delay was caused due to technical and administrative glitches for the issuance of the orders on the ambitious programme that will cost the state treasury a whopping amount of Rs 6500 cr. Though the government has issued an expression of interest for the purchase of vaccines on May 17, the state orders issued by the concerned department validates such a process.

As per the rules, the state decisions come into effect only when the concerned department issues formal orders. Unless the government order is issued no such programme can go ahead as the participants and stakeholders demand such orders in writing.

The state cabinet decided to offer free vaccination to 5.71 people under the liberalized pricing accelerated & national covid-19 vaccination announced by the central government on May 1 this year. The state requires 12 Cr jabs for the programme and approval is given for the required funds i.e. Rs 6,500 Cr, says the government orders.

The state government has already started the process of vaccine purchase and approval has been given to purchase vaccines from Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech for which Rs 54 Cr and 9 Cr have already been allocated, an official from the health department said. This could have been done to avoid criticism for the delay to start the free vaccination programme, the official said requesting anonymity.

Meanwhile, state BJP has a few days ago raised questions over the global tendering process and delay in finalising the programme. Has the process been stuck on the issue of percentage, party spokesman Keshav Upadhye asked.

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