States will not be in a position to start the vaccination
drive for those aged 18 to 45 from May 1 because of vaccine manufacturers’ prior delivery commitments and supply constraints.
The Maharashtra government announced free vaccination
for those aged 18-45 on Wednesday, but the state Health Minister Rajesh Tope made it clear that vaccination
for this category will not start from Saturday. Punjab, too, will continue vaccination for those aged above 45 because of supply constraints. The Andhra Pradesh government expects its deliveries only by the first or second week of May.
As a result, Maharashtra and Punjab are planning to prioritise vaccinations for sub-groups within the 18-45 age group and bureaucrats and expert groups in the states have been tasked to formulate plans in this regard.
Tope said Maharashtra aims to complete vaccination of over 57 million persons in the 18-45 group in six months. The state Cabinet has approved an allocation of Rs 6,500 crore for vaccine procurement.
The state, he said, has reached out to both Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech. While Bharat Biotech has one million doses each in May and June, SII has verbally informed that it can supply 10 million doses per month. The government is also looking to procure Russian-manufactured Sputnik V. The availability of vaccines remains a big challenge and assured and consistent supply are a must if the state has to start vaccinating persons aged 18-45, Tope said.
Punjab Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan told CNBC-TV18 that state has placed an order with SII for 3 million doses. “We have heard from them saying that there is a constraint and they will let us know how many doses they will provide and by when,” she said.
“Recognising that there will be a constraint and that entire 18-45 age group will not be immediately get vaccination we are working with an expert group so that whatever quantities come in we are able to allocate in the best possible manner with a view to control spread of pandemic,” Mahajan said.
Maharashtra health department, too, is considering ways to prioritise vaccination. Tope said that vaccination 18-45 age group could be divided to further sub-groups. Priority could also be given to those with co-morbidities in this category.
Andhra Pradesh has placed orders worth Rs 1,600 crore with the vaccine manufacturers and is hopeful of receiving its stock from first or second week of May. Uttar Pradesh has ordered 10 million doses and is waiting for a schedule from the manufacturers.
Meanwhile, the Kerala government decided to procure 10 million doses for the third phase of vaccination for persons above 18 years. The state Cabinet decided to purchase 7 million doses of Covishield and 3 million doses of Covaxin for the vaccination drive.
Tamil Nadu will procure 15 million doses. In the first phase, the doses would be sourced by the state-run Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation for the inoculation drive, to be done free of cost to the 18-plus category, the government said in an official release.
“As per Chief Minister K Palaniswami’s orders, all necessary steps are being taken to vaccinate people aged above 18, from May 1,” the government said.
(With inputs from PTI)