The mammoth vaccination drive to be launched in India from May 1 for those in the age group of 18 to 44 years may have a belated start with many states not securing the supply of doses. Only some states like the BJP-ruled UttarPradeshand Gujarat will be able to start the drive-in some districts and ramp it up once they get enough stocks.
The chains of two private hospitals in Delhi -- Apollo Hospitals and Max Hospitals -- on Friday claimed they are ready to roll out vaccines for 18 years and above starting from Saturday. They, however, refused to disclose how they procured the vaccine doses or whether they will use the residue stocks for vaccinating those above 45. Both said only those who have registered on the CoWIN app and made an appointment will be entertained.
Several states have said they cannot launch the vaccination drive on Saturday as planned as they still do not have the stocks. More than 2.45 crore people, who registered on the Co-WIN digital platform till 9.30 AM on Friday, have been told that they should wait for the message of allotment of slot and time at the nearby vaccination centre and not to crowd A confident Uttar Pradesh government, however, said it would start vaccination of the 18-plus category in seven districts and ramp it up once it gets supplies in response to the global tenders to be floated for 4 to 5 crore doses. It will provide the vaccine free of cost to all.
Gujarat has identified the 10 most-affected districts where the vaccination of the 18-plus will begin on May 1, since it also happens to be the Gujarat state foundation day; from hereon, it will cover the entire state as soon as the vaccine availability increases.
The BJP-ruled Haryana claimed its adult vaccination drive will begin on Saturday and that too free of cost in government hospitals. BJPruled Karnataka, however, expects the drive to proceed by fits and starts. The same is the case with BJP-ruled Assam which is still waiting for the vaccines to arrive. Its health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the drive to cover all adults may not commence in the first week, but it will be free whenever the supplies are received.
Another BJP-ruled state of Madhya Pradesh, which is also providing vaccine free of cost has decided to delay the drive. In a video, message, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said the manufacturers are unable to supply the vaccines and "so the drive covering the young people won't start on May 1."
Ditto with BJP-ruled Goa, whose CM, Dr Pramod Sawant, said the inoculation will begin only when the vaccines arrive. Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha has also announced doses free of cost, but officials said jabbing may start only in the third week of May or so, once the state gets the supply. BJP-ruled Himachal Pradesh CM Jai Ram Thakur is keeping his fingers crossed, again hoping for early supplies.
The inoculation is also free in Left-ruled Kerala, which plans to buy 1 crore doses from the open market and start the drive once its stock arrives. Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh's chief minister Bhupesh Baghel said the 18+ drive may begin only in July since the manufacturers have refused to cater to immediate demand. Other Congress-ruled states of Punjab and Rajasthan said they will be unable to join the ‘tika’ Utsav.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has put onus on the Centre to supply the vaccine from its quota but said the drive would start only from May 5 after the assembly election process is over. A candid Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said vaccination in the 18-44 age group will begin only in September after completing the inoculation of those above the age of 45, hoping to cover all by January next year. Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao said there is no possibility of the next phase since the state is still in the process of ordering the vaccines from the manufacturers. Both state governments have promised free vaccines