The Maharashtra government has decided to divert three lakh vials of Covaxin meant for the 18-44 age group to those aged 45 and above who are due for a second dose of the vaccine.
Shortage of doses forced the government to take the decision, Health Minister Rajesh Tupe said on Tuesday.
“Around 35,000 doses of Covaxin are available for people above 45 years, but over 5 lakh people need the second dose of Covaxin. For this, we are diverting Covaxin stock to those above 45 years of age,” he said.
“Three lakh doses of Covaxin which was for the 18 to 44 age group will now be diverted to 45 and above. We are suspending vaccination for the 18+ age group who want Covaxin,” the minister said.
“Efficacy of the vaccine is largely affected if the second dose is not administered within a stipulated time. To avoid such health crisis, the state government has decided to divert 3 lakh vials [of Covaxin] purchased for the 18-44 age category…”
There is a dearth of vaccines hence we’re considering holding off vaccination drive temporarily for 18-44 age group. 2.75 lakh vaccine doses left for this group, that’ll be used for 45 yrs & above group now. Administering 2nd dose is priority: Maharashtra Health Min Rajesh Tope pic.twitter.com/KkJ4e9U9MW
— ANI (@ANI) May 11, 2021
According to the Modi government’s Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy, vaccination is free at government centres that receive doses from the Centre for healthcare workers, frontline workers and people above 45 years of age.
However, states and private hospitals have to procure 50 per cent of the vaccines in order to immunise those in the 18-44 category.
Speaking to reporters, Tope also demanded a separate vaccination app for Maharashtra. “There are technical difficulties and people from cities are taking vaccines in rural areas. Therefore we have requested for a separate app for Maharashtra,” he said.
Global vaccine procurement
The government has, meanwhile, asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to explore the possibility of global procurement of vaccines.
In a series of tweets, Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray said on Monday that work was also on to ensure those not well-versed with technology or those who are unable to operate the CoWin app get access to vaccines in time.
“Looking at the need for adequate vaccines to ensure that vaccination is swift & efficient, after discussing the issue with CM Uddhav Thackeray ji, as guardian minister of Mumbai, we have asked @mybmc to explore possibilities of global procurement of vaccines,” he tweeted.
“Our efforts to increase vaccination centres are constantly on going and the @mybmc shall be having a centre in every municipal ward, along with a drive in vaccination centre across all zones of Mumbai, on my humble request to @mayor_mumbai @KishoriPednekar ji and MC Chahal ji,” Thackeray said in another tweet.