People over 45 years of age are next in line for vaccination, according to officials from the state health department.
This indication comes on the heels of Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray's proposal in a virtual meeting chaired by PM Modi that all those above 45 years of age should be inoculated.
Currently, four categories of people -- healthcare and frontline workers, senior citizens and those in the 45-59 years’ category with co-morbidities -- are being vaccinated across the state.
Officials and health experts have welcomed the proposal, saying in view of the increasing number of cases, vaccinating all above 45 years would be a good decision, as with this, half the population of the state would be covered. But before this can begin, importantly, it needs to be ensured that all centres are able to handle the beneficiaries and the CoWin portal functions smoothly, to avoid any problems in future.
Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician, Bombay Hospital, and the coordinator for private hospitals amid the ongoing pandemic, said there was a need to step up the vaccination drive, considering the current scenario of the cases across Maharashtra. “It was a much-needed demand, as with this, we will cover most of the population and it will benefit the nation. We are just hoping the Centre gives its approval soon, which will boost the vaccination drive,” he said.
Dr Deepak Baid, president of the Association of Medical Consultants, said the state government should increase its manpower if it was willing to vaccinate everyone above 45 years of age. The centralised CoWin portal too should function properly, to rule out problems at the vaccine centres as was faced by senior citizens when the third phase of the drive began, he said. “Before allowing everyone to go in for vaccination, all the facilities should be in place and there should be no mismanagement at the vaccine centres. Meanwhile, the state government should increase more centres so that the vaccination drive can speed up,” he said.