Maharashtra Congress on Wednesday said that their party president Sonia Gandhi's demand to provide free vaccination to citizens in the age group of 18 to 44 against COVID-19, was accepted by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
"The demand of @INCIndia President Smt Sonia Gandhi has been accepted by MVA led Maharashtra govt to provide free vaccination to all in the 18-44 age group across the state," tweeted Maharashtra Congress.
Maharashtra Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat thanked Thackeray and his cabinet colleagues for accepting Gandhi's demand. "Responding positively to the demand raised by @INCIndia President Sonia ji Gandhi, the #MVA govt has decided to provide free vaccination to all in the 18 - 44 age group in the state. Grateful to @CMOMaharashtra Uddhavji Thackeray & all cabinet colleagues #FreeVaccinationForAll," he tweeted.
On Wednesday, Thackeray made the announcement about free vaccines after chairing a cabinet meeting. Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the state will cover 5.71 crore citizens from this age group and it would cost Rs 6,500 crore to the government. Tope, however, said the vaccination drive beginning May 1 cannot be launched in the state due to unavailability of a sufficient number of vaccine doses. But the state government plans to vaccinate the citizens in next six months in a planned manner, he added.
On Tuesday, Thorat said he had received a phone call from Gandhi and she took stock of the present status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Maharashtra. "Expressing satisfaction in the MVA govt's handling of the crisis, she has instructed that vaccination drive should be conducted expeditiously in state," Thorat had tweeted.
Gandhi had earlier, in a letter to PM Modi, asked him to re-examine the new vaccination policy saying it "implies that the Government of India has abdicated its responsibility to provide free vaccination for citizens between the age group of 18 to 45 years." "The nation’s goal must be to ensure that everyone over 18 years is given the vaccine, regardless of their economic circumstances," she had said. This had come after the vaccine manufacturing companies had announced the prices of their COVID-19 vaccines for state governments and private hospitals.