New Delhi: The next phase of India’s vaccination drive against Covid-19- in which the Central government will provide free vaccines to everyone above the age of 18 years – will begin from June 21.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on June 7, announced the states won’t have to procure vaccines from the manufacturers and that the Centre will buy 75 per cent of the vaccines and will distribute them among the states and the Union territories free of cost. This will mark a significant shift from its earlier ‘liberalised and accelerated’ vaccination policy.
The vaccination drive in India began on January 16. From January 16 to April 30, the Centre followed a policy in which it procured 100% vaccine doses from the manufacturers and provided them to states and UTs, free of cost. During this period, frontline workers and people above the age of 45 years were the target beneficiaries. While, from May 1, the government introduced the liberalised policy under which the Centre procured 50 per cent of the vaccines while states and private hospitals procured the rest directly from the manufacturers. Explaining the shift from this policy in a month, the health ministry said, “Many states have now communicated that they are facing difficulties in managing the funding, procurement and logistics of vaccines, impacting the pace of the National Covid Vaccination Programme. It has also been noted that smaller and remoter private hospitals are also facing constraints.”
States will administer the vaccine doses given by the Centre free of cost to everyone above the age of 18 years. The priority population group will be health care workers, frontline workers, citizens with 45 years of age, and then citizens whose second dose is due, followed by citizens 18 years and above. Within the population group of citizens more than 18 years of age, states/UTs may decide their own prioritisation factoring in the vaccine supply schedule, the Centre said.
Population, Covid-19 caseload, vaccination wastage are some of the factors on which the Centre will decide the supply.
Private hospitals can procure the rest 25 per cent of the vaccine production. States/UTs would aggregate the demand of private hospitals so that all hospitals in the state get an equitable share. Private hospitals can be charged for the vaccines, but the Centre has capped the upper limit.
From tomorrow, pre-registration on Cowin.gov.in will not be mandatory as all government and private vaccination centres would provide onsite registration facility.