From June 21, free vaccines for adults; states gear up for record drives
The longest day of the year is set to become one of its most productive in terms of battling COVID-19: June 21, summer solstice and the day from which Prime Minister Narendra Modi said vaccines against COVID-19 would be distributed for free, will see states ramp up their efforts to inoculate the most number of people before the third wave of infections can strike.
As per the Centre’s new vaccine policy, which will come into effect from Monday, the Centre will take over vaccine procurement, buying up 75 per cent of vaccine production and giving them for free to the states. 25 per cent of stock from manufacturers would be made available for private hospitals, which can charge a maximum of Rs 150 over as a service charge over the cost of vaccines. Vaccine rates at private hospitals are currently capped at Rs 78- for Covishield, Rs 1,410 for Covaxin and Rs 1,145 for Sputnik V.
All above 18 years of age will be eligible to get free vaccination at government facilities.
Modi made the announcement in his June 7 address, when he said the world was facing a once in a century pandemic. Until Monday, procurement was being done on a 50-50 basis, with the Centre getting half of all doses and the states and private sector the other half.
The Health Ministry also clarified later that online registration on the CO-WIN portal was not mandatory, with adults free to perform on-site registration at vaccination centres. Government and private vaccination centres must provide on-site registration facility.
More than 29.10 crore vaccine doses have been provided to States/UTs so far, through the Government of India (free of cost channel) and through direct state procurement category, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.
Of this, the total consumption, including wastages is 26,04,19,412 doses (as per data available at 8 AM on Sunday). More than 3.06 crore COVID Vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs to be administered.
The ministry said more than 24,53,080 vaccine doses are in the pipeline and will be received by the States/UTs within the next three days. India has so far administered just 27 crore doses—By contrast, China on Sunday announced that it had administered over one billion doses.
After Andhra Pradesh on Sunday set a national record by administering over one million doses in a single day, other states are also gearing up to hold mega vaccination drives.
The Madhya Pradesh government set a target of ten lakh vaccinations on June 21, when it will launch its own mega vaccination drive. With this target in mind, the state aims to complete 100 per cent vaccination of those above 18 years by October-November. To this end, 7,000 vaccination centres will be set up in the state.
In Gujarat, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani decided at a core committee meeting on Friday to allow walk-in registration for all under the 18-44 age group from June 21.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced a target of vaccinating three lakh people daily between June 21-30. To achieve this, for the next week there will be no government, with the entirety of the state machinery engaged in the vaccination drive, PTI reported. The CM also instructed all government employees to get inoculated within this month, as government offices are set to reopen from July 1.
The Uttar Pradesh administration said it would administer seven lakh doses a day from June 21. Haryana would aim to administer 2.5 lakh doses. Altogether, India aims to reach 50 lakh vaccinations daily from June 21, a senior government official told News18.
In addition, in a bid to tackle concerns and myths about the COVID-19 vaccine, the Ministry of Minority Affairs will launch a pan-India “Jaan hai to Jahan Hai” awareness campaign, starting from UP’s Rampur district