- The move comes two weeks after the centre widened the vaccination drive
- Last month, Tamil Nadu had expanded the vaccination drive to journalists
- So far, 3.17 crore people have received the jabs across the country
Judges, lawyers, teachers and journalists can now get the coronavirus shot in Punjab's Ludhiana, the district administration said on Monday, widening the vaccination drive to sections not yet cleared by the central government. The decision will also cover workers of banks, NGOs, cooperative societies and food grain societies.
The move comes two weeks after the centre opened up the campaign to all above 60 and those above 45 with illnesses. India began its coronavirus vaccination programme in January intending to inoculate 3 crore frontline workers. Last month, Tamil Nadu had expanded the vaccination drive to journalists. So far, 3.17 crore people have received the jabs across the country.
With a renewed surge in some states including Punjab, India recorded over 26,000 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, its highest single-day spike in nearly three months. The country's infection tally stood at 1.13 crore, according to Union Health Ministry data.
Registering an upward trend for five days in a row, the total active caseload has gone up to 2.19 lakh which is 1.93 per cent of the total infections in the country, while the recovery rate has dropped to 96.68 per cent, the data said.
The Ludhiana administration's decision also comes on the same day that the central government told the Supreme Court that "it is not in national interest to prioritise vaccination on profession and it amounts to discrimination".
The centre was responding to a notice from the Supreme Court on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which wanted priority vaccination for judges, judicial employees, lawyers and members of the legal fraternity.
"It may not be in the interest of the nation to start sub-classification based on profession, trade for Covid vaccination. Vaccination policy is the domain of the executive in the interest of the nation and the court may not interfere," it said.
"In view of the limited manufacture of vaccine there is need for prioritisation of beneficiaries and priority given as per WHO guidelines," the government said.
Meanwhile, Bharat BioTech and Serum Institute, the makers of the two vaccines being used in India, have also approached the Supreme Court to transfer pending petitions across several high courts requesting priority for certain sections to the top court. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the transfer petitions on Thursday.