In a major move, the Union government on Monday announced that people above the age of 18 will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine from May 1. The announcement is part of the liberalised and accelerated phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination that will come into effect on May 1.
Notably, the announcement by the Union government was made after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held series of meetings to strategise the future course of action against the COVID-19 pandemic.
India so far is administering vaccines only to healthcare workers, frontline workers and people above 45. According to the ministry of health, 12.38 lakh people have been vaccinated so far. Out of it, 12.30 lakh people were vaccinated on Sunday. The Indian drug regulator has approved three vaccines for emergency use—Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V.
Recently, several states had complained to the Centre regarding the shortage of vaccine supply and also demanded that vaccines should be also made available to people aged below 45.
What the health ministry said about vaccination
The main elements of the liberalised and accelerated phase 3 strategy of the national COVID-19 vaccination programme that would come in effect from May 1, 2021, are as follows:
- Vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the Central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50 per cent doses to state governments and in the open market.
- Manufacturers would transparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50 per cent supply that would be available to state governments and in the open market, before May 1, 2021. Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments, etc would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers. Private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of COVID-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50 per cent supply earmarked for other than Central government channel. Private vaccination providers shall transparently declare their self-set vaccination price. The eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, i.e. everyone above the age of 18.
- Vaccination shall continue as before in Central government vaccination centres, provided free of cost to the eligible population as defined earlier i.e. health care workers (HCWs), front line workers (FLWs) and all people above 45 years of age.
- All vaccination (through Central government and other than government channel) would be part of the National Vaccination Programme, and mandated to follow all protocol such as being captured on CoWIN platform, linked to AEFI reporting and all other prescribed norms. Stocks and price per vaccination applicable in all vaccination centres will also have to be reported in real-time.
- The division of vaccine supply 50 per cent to Centre and 50 per cent to other than Union government channel would be applicable uniformly across for all vaccines manufactured in the country. However, the government of India will allow the imported fully ready-to-use vaccines to be entirely utilized in the other than the government of India channel.
- The Union government, from its share, will allocate vaccines to states/UTs based on the criteria of extent of infection (number of active COVID cases) & performance (speed of administration). Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criteria and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above criteria, the state-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the states adequately in advance.
- Second dose of all existing priority groups i.e. HCWs, FLWs and population above 45 years, wherever it has become due, would be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders.
- This policy would come into effect from 1st May 2021 and will be reviewed from time to time.
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