Starting tomorrow, those in the 18-44 age group, including those who have a confirmed slot, will not be able to get vaccine shots against Covid in government health centres in Karnataka, according to the state health department. Instead, vaccines will be reserved for those over 45 awaiting their second dose.
Union Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said authorities were not prepared for the enormous rush of people in this age group wanting to get vaccinated due to the ferocious second wave of Covid infections.
"Earlier, when the government announced vaccination for 45 and above, there was not so much rush. So on the basis of that we thought we could go ahead with the 18 to 45 people. But as soon as the second wave became big, people started rushing in. What we predicted... there was a little confusion," said DV Sadananda Gowda, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, and an MP from Karnataka.
Hamstrung by vaccine shortages, most states have been struggling to vaccinate its people even as the centre okayed those above 18 to be vaccinated from May 1.
"Vaccination should not be stopped for anyone. 18 to 45 years - vaccinations should be given because society will be safe as well as home," a young woman, who was in the queue to get her shot today, told NDTV.
Another woman, Pushpa, said, "Corona doesn't bother about age. It comes to children, it comes to 18 plus, it comes to 40 plus. That is why I am asking the government to see that everybody gets the vaccine."
The Minister maintained that this was the aim of the government.
"Our aim is to vaccinate everybody above the age of 18 at the earliest. It isn't so easy. 17 crore people have been vaccinated by now within a very short time. Compared to other counties, we did extremely well. But as per the population ration and the demand that rises with the second wave, there was a small setback," Mr Gowda said.
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to be a challenge in Karnataka, one of the worst-hit states, with the demand far outstripping the supply.
The lack of vaccines, considered one of the best ways to reduce infections and fatalities, raises important questions and is a matter of deep concern.