Maharashtra State advisor on Covid-19 slams centre over vaccine distribution
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Dr. Subhash Salunkhe, state advisor on Covid-19 has come down heavily slamming the central government for failing to plan vaccination distribution judiciously. The accusation by Salunkhe, former director-general of health services came a day after the Union health department officials clarified that the vaccination drive will not be opened for all, turning down the state government's suggestion of inoculating everyone above the age of 25 years.

Dr. Salunkhe on Thursday said that Maharashtra being the worst affected state in the country should not suffer from a shortage of vaccines. Salunkhe went on to allege that Rajesh Bhushan, union secretary of health has been giving wrong advisories as vaccination can be given to youth above the age of 18 citing that over 30 per cent plus cases in Maharashtra involve youth in the age group for 25 to 30 years.

After the chief minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray wrote to Prime minister Narendra Modi recently to allow everyone about 25 years to get vaccinated, the centre on Tuesday said that the vaccination policy adopted was based on scientific principles and was intended to secure a vulnerable population first, keeping in mind vaccine supplies. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said the objective of vaccination was to inoculate those who needed it and not those who wanted it. The Union health secretary also stated that the current vaccination policy adopted by India was no different from the approaches adopted by developed countries such as the US, the UK, and Australia.

However, Dr. Salunkhe emphasised the fact that most infected patients in the state of Maharashtra are from the age group between 25 to 40 years. He also pointed out that the state covidtask force too has demanded that an exception should be made for the state of Maharashtra, which is currently the worst affected States across the country reporting an average of 50000 new cases every day.

"In such a case, the Center should do its utmost to supply vaccines to Maharashtra, while states which is less affected can wait for time being. Considering the highest number of cases reported from Maharashtra, the state needs to be put on priority. At the same time, the union health department needs to understand the current situation and allow all over the age of 18 or above the age of 25 to be inoculated and provide all medical assistance. I appreciate the idea of equitable distribution of vaccines, but worst affected stated need urgent attention and priority," Salunkhe told the Free Press Journal.

"Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has been quoting what the international norms and rules are. According to me, there are no international rules and regulations pertaining to the age at which a vaccine can be given. If there is such a rule, Mr. Bhushan should show it. According to me, everyone above the age of 18 can be and should be vaccinated. Today United States, England, Israel, and other countries have reached the vaccination stage for the age of 12 and 18 years. Every country is taking decisions considering their covid-19 situation. Given the dire situation of covid19 in Maharashtra, everyone from the age of 25 should be vaccinated, however, we are dealing with a shortage of vaccines." Salunkhe said adding what steps are being taken by the central government to ensure stockpiling of vaccines according to the population, we are still unclear on that.

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