Maharashtra to urge Centre to give
free vaccine for people below poverty line

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government will urge the central government to provide free vaccines to the people below the poverty line (BPL) Rajesh Tope said that he will urge the central government to provide free vaccines to the people below the poverty line as they may not be able to shell out Rs 500 for vaccination. However, he said the rich can bear the cost.

On the availability of COVID-19 vaccine, Tope said the Centre might inform the state government in the next 10 days about the large-scale availability of the dosages. He insisted that the Centre should provide vaccines free of cost so that poor people will not have to bear the charges. If the Centre does not do that the state government will pitch in. “If the Centre does not take a decision on free vaccines, then the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister will take the right decision. But the poor will not be left to bear the cost,’’ clarified Tope.

Tope said he would seek some clarifications from the Centre on the two COVID-19 vaccines Covishield and Covaxin approved for the restricted emergency use before launching a mass inoculation drive in the state. ‘’There are some clarifications we are seeking from the Centre about the approved vaccines, as they have been cleared for use citing the emergency situation. Maharashtra will raise its concerns about the vaccines during a national video conference with the Union health minister scheduled on January 7,'' he added.

He announced that a dry run will be conducted across Maharashtra on January 8 to check the preparedness of the mechanism rolled out for the vaccination exercise.

Tope said that the Centre is expected to inform the state in the next 10 days about the large-scale availability of the dosages. According to him, the data of 7,90,000 health workers in Maharashtra, including those employed in government and private sectors, is already uploaded on the CO-WIN application developed for the mass vaccination," he said. The Centre and Maharashtra governments have already decided to administer vaccines free to health workers and frontline workers in the first phase.

Further, Tope said he would write a letter to the Centre requesting it to ask other states to follow the same protocol for those arriving from the UK following the lifting of travel ban from January 7. ‘’We will maintain the protocol in our state. But we will send a letter to the central government to the effect that passengers who land in other states and come to our state also need a follow the same protocol,’’ he viewed.

If the Centre does not take a decision on free vaccines, then the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister will take the right decision. But the poor will not be left to bear the cost
Rajesh Tope

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