Several states have said they will not be able start vaccinations of the 18-44 age group against the coronavirus from Saturday because of a shortage of vaccine doses, sources say. The centre, which has been inoculating frontline workers and those aged 45 and above, this month announced expansion of the national vaccination drive from May 1 after the rapid second Covid wave triggered spurts of cases and deaths across the country. Per the revised rules, the centre will receive 50 per cent of the vaccines supplied; states and private hospitals will get the remaining doses. Many states have said they will vaccinate people for free.
Maharashtra is the worst-affected state in the country. It had been asking the centre to open inoculations for all adults. The Uddhav Thackeray government today announced that it will provide free Covid vaccinations to those aged between 18 and 44. The government will buy vaccine doses worth Rs 6,500 for this purpose; it is in touch with Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech - the manufacturers of two of the three vaccines approved for use in India.
In Mumbai, people aged 45 and above will be vaccinated at the existing 63 facilities. 227 new vaccination centres will be opened for the 18-44 group. The number of private facilities will be increased to 100-plus. Sources, however, say the city may not be able to start vaccinations from Saturday because of lack of vaccine doses.
Tamil Nadu has ordered 1.5 crore doses of vaccines ahead of the third phase of the vaccination drive. So far, 55.5 people have been vaccinated against the virus in the state.
Kerala crossed the 30,000-cases mark for the first time on Tuesday. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today announced that the state will purchase 1 crore doses of the vaccines from the open market. "70 lakh doses of Covishield and 30 lakh doses of Covaxin will be procured for the next 3 months, May-July, for Rs 483 crore," he tweeted. He said those waiting for their second doses will be given priority. Sources say the state has vaccinated around 16 per cent of its population.
Rajasthan may not be able to start vaccinations from May 1. The state needs 7 crore doses. It has demanded at least 3.75 crore doses to begin with. It is unlikely that Rajasthan will get the supply before mid-May. Hence, the state will only continue the vaccinations of those aged 45 and above, sources said.
Like Rajasthan, Assam will have difficulties in starting inoculations of the 18-44 group. It has placed orders for 2 crore doses – one crore each from the two companies. However, they say the supply has been erratic.
Punjab will not be able to start vaccinating all adults from May 1. The state had booked 30 lakh doses with Serum Institute. The Pune-based company, however, has told the state government that it will not be able to deliver before mid-May.
"It is very uncertain as of now to say whether we will be able to launch the vaccination for all adults from May 1. Today 2 lakh doses of Covishield are expected to arrive from the centre. We received 1.5 lakh doses of Covishield yesterday. We have 15,000-20,000 doses of Covaxin with us," a senior officer told NDTV.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said all eligible residents of Delhi will be vaccinated for free in the third phase of the drive. His government has approved purchase of 1.34 crore doses. "We will make an effort to ensure that it is purchased soon and administered at the earliest to people," Mr Kejriwal announced this week.
The centre today opened vaccine registrations for all adults on its dedicated website for the drive - CoWIN. However, users said they were experiencing glitches.
"More Appointment slots will soon be offered. If slots are not currently available, please check again after sometime. We request your patience and understanding," said government sources.