The Congress government in Rajasthan has decided to vaccinate all above the age of 18 from May 1 from its own pocket. The free vaccination would cost the state exchequer around Rs 3,000 crore—a significant sum for a cash-strapped state government.
Earlier during the day, the Maharashtra government, of which Congress is a part, also announced free vaccination for people above the age of 18. The announcement in this regard was made by minister Nawab Malik.
Apart from Rajasthan and Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Haryana have promised free vaccines for all adults.
Centre should have taken the responsibility
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that the Union government should have undertaken the task of vaccinating citizens in the age group of 18-44. He, however, added that since the Centre is not ready to undertake the same, the state government decided to bear the burden.
Although the CM has announced to provide free vaccines to people, Rajasthan is likely to face a vaccine shortage as the Pune-based Serum Institute has reportedly informed the Rajasthan government that it cannot supply the vaccine for the time being as it is overbooked.
As part of the next phase of India’s immunisation drive, the Centre has said that the state governments and private hospitals can directly purchase the vaccines from their respective manufacturers. Also, the vaccination coverage has been expanded to the age group of 18-45.
Earlier, the vaccination drive was confined to the age group of 45-plus. Following the Centre’s announcement, vaccine manufacturers—Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech have announced their vaccine price.
While the Union government will continue to purchase 50 per cent stock of COVID vaccines manufactured by these two companies at the rate of Rs 150 per vial, states will have to shell out Rs 400 for Covishield and Rs 600 for Covaxin. Private hospitals will have to pay Rs 600 for Covishield and Rs 1,200 for Covaxin.
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