Maharashtra has been asked to take "corrective action" to improve its performance in vaccinating its healthcare and frontline workers. The Centre, which issued the order, had earlier accused the state of spreading panic about vaccine shortage to divert attention from its poor vaccination record.
"Maharashtra has vaccinated just only 86% of health workers with first dose... 41% of healthcare workers with second dose. Among frontline workers, Maharashtra has vaccinated only 73% with first dose... Vaccination of frontline workers with second does for Maharashtra is at 41%... When it comes to senior citizens, Maharashtra has vaccinated just 25%," Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had said on Wednesday.
Accusing Delhi and Punjab of having equally low figures, the health minister said, "The inability of Maharashtra government to act responsibly is beyond comprehension... The lackadaisical attitude of the state government has singularly bogged down the entire country's efforts to fight the virus".
In the evening, a letter from Dr Manohar Agnani, the Additional Secretary in the Union Health ministry to Maharashtra's Principal Secretary said, "You are kindly requested to undertake necessary corrective actions immediately for improving the performance of COVID-19 vaccination drive in your state/UT".
Mentioning the vaccination data in detail, the letter said it brings out the need for "stepped up" efforts.
"The primary objective of vaccination is to protect the healthcare and pandemic response system, especially in states having a surge in COVID-19 cases," the letter read.
On Wednesday, Maharashtra said its vaccine stocks are running very low. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope told NDTV, "Stocks of vaccine in the state remain only for three days."
"We don't have doses in most of our vaccination centres and they had to shut down. They are sending people back because of lack of doses," the minister said he has told Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Maharashtra has been the worst sufferer from Covid since the pandemic surfaced in the country last year.