The Centre has announced that the third phase of COVID-19 vaccination, for the age group of 18 to 44, will start on May 1. However, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said that the vaccination drive cannot be launched in the state because of the unavailability of sufficient amount of doses.
Tope also said the people in the age group of 18 to 44 will receive free vaccines at state-run centres but they will have to pay for the jabs at private facilities.
The free vaccination decision was taken at the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. The move will put a burden of Rs 6,500 crore on the state's coffers, Tope said.
"A citizen will be vaccinated for free only at government-run centres. They will have to pay for vaccines at private facilities," he added.
Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday said that the total COVID vaccine doses received by Maharashtra as of April 28 (at 8 am) are 1,58,62,470. Of this, the total consumption, including wastage (0.22 per cent), was 1,53,56,151.
"The balance of 5,06,319 vaccine doses is still available with the state for administration to the eligible population groups," the Ministry said.
It said that 5,00,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine are in the pipeline for delivery in the next three days to Maharashtra.
Besides, the state government has decided to extend the ongoing lockdown by another 15 days, said Tope. He said all members of the cabinet, who participated in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, pitched for such extension.