May 1, 2021 2:19:49 am
Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan on Friday announced they would roll out Covid vaccination for the 18-44 age group as scheduled on Saturday, while several other states, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) deferred it because of shortage of vaccines, and appealed to the people against rushing to the vaccination centres.
Maharashtra, which had earlier ruled out starting the drive on account of shortage of vaccines, made the announcement after receiving three lakh doses from Serum Institute of India (SII) on Friday. Till late night, officials were engaged in sending 10,000 to 20,000 doses to each of the 36 districts overnight so that vaccination can begin, at least symbolically, on the rollout date of May 1.
While vaccines will be administered according to pre-booked slots, until Friday night the slots had not opened on CoWin app. Officials said that slots may start appearing by Saturday on the app.
The UP government announced free vaccination for every beneficiary from May 1. It said it had made all arrangements to meet the vaccination demand. It slotted two days every week – Friday and Saturday – for the 18-44 age group, and four days for those above 45 years.
A government spokesperson said while the state already had one crore doses in stock for the latest phase, at least four crore doses would be purchased through a global tender that has already been floated. The state administration estimates there are nine crore people in the 18-44 years category in UP. “To ensure regular availability of Covid vaccines… the state will receive a total of one crore vaccines for the next phase of vaccination. The Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech will each provide 50 lakh doses,” said the spokesperson.
Rajasthan said it will be open vaccination for the 18-44 age group only in Jaipur and, if stocks last, in Ajmer too. State Health Minister Raghu Sharma said, “There are about 3.25 crore beneficiaries in the state who fall in the age group of 18-45 years. For two doses, and accounting for wastage, we need about 7 crore doses …” Earlier, the state government had booked 3.75 crore doses from SII but was told that they can only provide three lakh vaccines as of now. Late on Friday, SII said it will be able to provide an additional 5.44 lakh doses in May.
Tamil Nadu, however, will not be able to roll out the vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group before the third week of May, a top health official said on Friday.
The Karnataka government asked eligible people not to rush to be vaccinated until intimated by the state government.
Uttarakhand Health Secretary Amit Negi said vaccination for the new age group will be possible to start after a week only. The Goa government also issued an “important alert” requesting eligible people not to rush to vaccination centres on Saturday.
(Inputs from ENS, Bengaluru, Srinagar, Panaji)