No Out-Of-Turn Vaccinations For Politicians, Cautions PM Modi

The government has prepared a priority list for vaccination that is headed by one crore health workers and two crore frontline workers

New Delhi:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a meeting with state Chief Ministers on Monday ahead of the Coronavirus vaccine rollout, underscored that politicians should not jump queue to take the vaccine but wait for their turn, sources told NDTV.

The government has prepared a priority list of for the first phase of vaccination, which is headed by one crore health workers and two crore frontline workers like the police, civil defence personnel and sanitation workers, for whom the vaccines will be free.

The other high risk groups -- people above the age of 50 years and those below it who have co-morbidities like diabetes and hypertension -- will also be vaccinated in this phase, starting January 16. Overall, 30 crore people will receive the vaccine in this phase.

The Prime Minister's warning came after the Haryana government's request to include public representatives like MPs and MLAs to be included in the list for vaccination in the first phase.

On November 24, at the last meeting between the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had made the request. The Prime Minister had not responded at the time. Later, state health minister Anil Vij had written to the Union health ministry, but received no response.

At Thursday's meeting with Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, health ministers of Bihar and Odisha had demanded that public representatives from panchayats to Parliament should be considered frontline workers and be vaccinated.

Dr Harsh Vardhan had made it clear last week that everyone in the country cannot be inoculated at this point. "Based on the quantity of doses, it is not possible to vaccinate all the people simultaneously. Hence, priority groups were decided," he had said.

Given the limitations, the government is trying to vaccinate a critical mass of people that would help create herd immunity and keep the virus at bay.

Sources said 11 million doses of Serum Institute's Covishield vaccine -- which received the drug regulator's approval for emergency use along with Bharat Biotech's Covaxin -- will be supplied to the government in the first tranche. The vaccine will be priced at Rs 200 a dose, sources said.

Serum chief executive Adar Poonawalla had told NDTV that the vaccine would be priced at about Rs 1,000 rupees per dose at the private market in India once the government gives clearance.

The Prime Minister's warning came days after reports of illegal sale of Covid vaccine in the US. In New York, the police are investigating a case where the vaccine was fraudulently obtained and distributed.