Those above 18 can now get vaccinated against COVID-19 from May 1 onwards, the Centre announced on Monday, following a flurry of meetings held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with key stakeholders.
The decision came on a day the country recorded its highest-ever single-day spike of 2.73 lakh COVID-19 cases.
“The government has been working hard from over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible of time,” Modi said.
Vaccination in India kickstarted in January this year, first covering health and frontline workers before moving on to senior citizens and those above 45 in later stages. India is currently using two vaccines – Bharat Biotech’s indigenous vaccine Covaxin, and Serum Institute-produced Covishield. Russia’s Sputnik V was also recently approved by the drug controller for restricted emergency use.
The government said pricing, procurement, eligibility and administering of vaccines will be flexible in the latest round of the inoculation drive.
The government statement said that states can now directly receive vaccine from pharmaceutical companies. It said incentives have been provided to pharma companies producing vaccines to help them release up to 50 per cent of their monthly supply to state governments and in the retail market at a declared price while diverting the other 50 per cent to the Centre.
State governments, private hospitals, and industrial establishments can purchase vaccines from the makers based on the declared price.
The Centre has also clarified that priority will be given to second dose for existing priority groups and that it will continue to provide free of cost vaccination for health and frontline workers and those above 45 years at central government facilities. It will also allocate doses to states and Union territories from its share based on cases.