New Delhi: Keeping in mind the welfare of the people, several States have decided to vaccinate their population against the surging COVID-19 pandemic free. The drive to inoculate those between 18 and 44 years, is to start from tomorrow, May 1.
As on today more than 2.45 crore beneficiaries have registered themselves on Co-WIN digital platform for the crucial third phase of vaccination.
With the massive shortage of vaccines reported and also the need for the required infrastructure for the vaccination, are the States ready for this mammoth drive?
Madhya Pradesh Government had announced that all above the age of 18 years will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine free in the State from May 1. The State Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had made this announcement. “A detailed guidelines of the government of India will be issued later, but the people above the age of 18 will be vaccinated for free in Madhya Pradesh,” he said.
On Thursday, CM in a video message announced the State will not drive on May 1. “‘On contacting the manufacturers of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines we learned that they are unable to give us doses for those above 18 years of age on May 1. ‘So the drive covering the young people won’t start on May 1.”
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir’s Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha had on Saturday said in a statement, that it will not charge people for the doses. “It has been decided that COVID-19 vaccination for people in the age group of 18 to 45 years will be free of cost in the Union Territory, and the cost of vaccine will be borne by the government of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Yesterday a senior official in the State’s Health Department said: “We have placed orders for vaccines but it will take at least 20 days. The drive for 18-45 years of age will start after we get these doses.”
The ongoing drive too is facing challenges due to the irregular supply of doses in Jammu and Kashmir. While many vaccination centres ran out of the doses, several people returned without getting jabbed.
The hilly State had declared after the State Cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur that it will provide the COVID-19 vaccine free of cost to people between the ages of 18 and 44 years from May 1. The Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Bhardwaj told reporters that the decision was made keeping in mind the welfare of the general public although it would be a huge burden on the exchequer.
Yesterday, the CM stated “The next phase of the vaccination, which will also cover a large section of younger people will be taken up only on availability of necessary stock of vaccine doses in the state.” Reassuring the people he added: “We have already placed the orders to vaccination-manufacturing companies. We are making all-out efforts to procure the stock and start the next phase of vaccination. A detailed plan will also be prepared soon for smooth conduct of the drive.”
Announcing inoculation to those between the ages of 18 to 45 free of cost, Goa State said that it will start procuring 500,000 doses of Covishield vaccine initially.
Today Goa Chief Minister said that the Government has placed an order of five lakh doses with the Serum Institute of India, maker of Covishield vaccine and that it will start inoculating people in the age group of 18-44 when the COVID-19 vaccines arrive in the State.
The Left Government in the State of Kerala had announced that it will provide the vaccine against COVID-19 free of cost for everyone in the State.
In a significant statement, the State Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said that the vaccination drive will go ahead “uninterrupted”, and that the State will purchase 1 crore doses of the two vaccines currently in use in India – Covishield and Covaxin – from the open market with 70 lakh of the first vaccine.
In his tweet the CM said: “Kerala will purchase 1 crore doses of #COVID19 vaccines from the open market. 70L doses of Covishield and 30L doses of Covaxin will be procured for next 3 months, May – July, for ? 483 crore. Priority for 2nd dose. Our vaccination drive will go ahead, uninterrupted.”
The State Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had said the State Government will pay for the vaccination of people over 18 years of age. “We will take all possible steps to protect the lives of our citizens.”
Reporting vaccine shortage to inoculate 18-plus citizens from May 1 the State’s Health Minister TS Singh Deo was quoted in ANI as saying: “We don’t have sufficient vaccine doses to start vaccinations from May 1 for the 18-plus population. Even if we have 1 lakh doses how many people we can inoculate out of the total 1.20 crore population.”
Tweeting in Hindi, the Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar on Wednesday had said: “The Bihar Government will provide COVID-19 vaccine free of cost to all above 18 years of age in the State.”
But the next phase of vaccination for those above 18 years of age is unlikely to begin from May 1 according to a health official. Manoj Kumar, Executive Director, Bihar State Health Society said, that SII had refused to supply one crore vials of the vaccine demanded by the Bihar government. Instead, SII wanted the state government to place its monthly requirement.
In his tweet on Thursday, the Chief Minister, Hemant Soren had said: “In Jharkhand, the corona vaccine will be provided free of cost to people above the age of 18 by the state government.
As of now, the inoculation drive covering people aged between 18-44 years is likely to begin after May 15 when the vaccines arrive. The State Health Minister Banna Gupta said: “The (vaccine manufacturing) companies said they will have to deliver the Centre’s order by May 15. They said there was no chance of providing vaccines to Jharkhand before May 15, and that they will consider our order in the last week of May.”
In this State, the Bharatiya Janata Party national general secretary BL Santhosh had said that Uttar Pradesh will vaccinate the population above 18 years free of cost.
Being the most populous State in the country, with a population of over 23 crore, the Government had already placed an order for 1 crore vaccines — 50 lakhs each from the makers of Covishield and Covaxin. Yet that is not enough to meet the demand.
So ahead of the Phase 3 of vaccination drive the Government has decided to float a global tender to procure four crore vaccines in order to vaccinate the people of the State. This was decided by the Core Committee.
Assam too had decided to provide free COVID-19 vaccine, and according to the BJP national general secretary Santhosh it has already placed an order for 10 million vaccines with Bharath Biotech.
On Monday, the State’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said he doubted if the vaccination drive for 18-45 years will commence by the first week of May. He cited the issues of availability of vaccines and the announcement of Assembly poll results on May 2. “Vaccine order has been given to Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute (of India, or SII). When they provide us the vaccines, only then can we begin the vaccination.”
The Sikkim CM Prem Singh Tamang had announced on Wednesday that the State Government will bear the cost of the vaccines of the people in the age group of 18-45. Today the Director General-cum-Secretary of the Sikkim Health Department, Pempa T. Bhutia, siid the drive was not possible since the process of procuring more vaccines was still on. “The government has proposed to procure 66,0000 doses of Covishield and have placed the order with Serum Institute (of India), Pune. Out of them, 15,0000 doses are requested to be delivered in May. The vaccination drive for this age group will start as and when we receive this consignment.”
The State CM Mamata Banerjee promised universal vaccination for those who are above 18. She had said that the drive will start from May 5 as the election process was still on.
The State has asked the Centre to supply at least three crore doses of the vaccines for State-run and private hospitals to continue with the vaccination drive and also open up jabs for the 18+ group. The State said two crore vaccine doses would be required to inoculate about one crore people in the 18-45 age bracket.
On Thursday the State Government had announced that it will provide free COVID-19 vaccination for all from May 1.
At present, J. Radhakrishnan, the Additional Chief Secretary (Health) said: “The Chief Minister had ordered 1.5 crore vaccines. But until now, we don’t know when it will reach and whether it will reach by tomorrow. We have not received any information.”
On Saturday, the State Deputy CM Alla Krishna Srinivas had conveyed the States’s decision to provide the COVID-19 vaccine free of cost to all above the age of 18 years.
Breaking his silence on vaccine shortage, the CM yesterday said, the drive for people aged 18 to 45 is expected to begin only in September, after completing the inoculation of those above the age of 45.
“It will take four months to complete the vaccination for people aged 18 to 44, which means they will be vaccinated not before January end next year,” he said while chairing a high-level review meet ahead of the mass vaccination drive on May 1.
The Telangana Government said it will administer COVID-19 vaccine free of cost to the entire population in the State irrespective of their age. This was announced by the Chief Minister, K Chandrashekhar Rao on Saturday.
Speaking to PTI, Telangana Public Health Director, G. Srinivasa Rao said: “There are no possibilities (of vaccination). We are in the process of getting a vaccine where there is no vaccine available in the country. We are in touch with the manufacturers also.”
After chairing a high-level meeting on Saturday the State Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said everyone above 18 years of age will be vaccinated free of cost at government hospitals in Haryana.
Recently, Prabhjot Singh, Mission Director, National Health Mission, Haryana speaking to The Pioneer said, “There is a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine stock in Haryana. We are hopeful that the situation will improve in the coming days. For the vaccination drive beginning from May 1 for adults, we have already placed an order to get adequate jabs.”