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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Centre allocates 6 lakh vaccine doses for 45 yrs + age group, Punjab govt says not enough

As per the state-wise allocation of doses released by the ministry Saturday, Punjab will receive 4,63,710 doses of Covishield and 1,52,810 doses of Covaxin.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana |
May 2, 2021 9:56:44 am
Punjab, Covid-19Ambulances with COVID-19 victims at Ramgarhia Crematorium in Ludhiana. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said Saturday it would be supplying 4.63 lakh doses of Covishield and 1.52 lakh doses of Covaxin to Punjab for the first fortnight of May for the free vaccination of beneficiaries above the age of 45 under the ‘Government of India’ channel.

However, the Punjab government has said that keeping in mind the pace at which beneficiaries were being inoculated, the number of vaccines would not last a week and were not enough.

The Union ministry, in a statement Saturday, said, “As was prescribed in the Liberalised and Accelerated Phase-3 of strategy of Covid-19 vaccination, all the states and UTs have been intimated by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare regarding the total number of vaccine doses that they would receive as part of ‘Government of India Channel’, of the vaccine doses totally free of cost for the vaccination of 45 years and above beneficiaries.”

As per the state-wise allocation of doses released by the ministry Saturday, Punjab will receive 4,63,710 doses of Covishield and 1,52,810 doses of Covaxin. Among other states in the region, Haryana has been allocated 4.23 lakh doses of Covishield and 1.39 lakh doses of Covaxin, while Himachal Pradesh has been allocated 3.02 lakh doses of Covishield only.

These free doses, however, cannot be diverted for the vaccination of the age group 18-44 years, as per the Centre’s policy and can be administered only at government-run vaccination centres.

For the vaccination of the age group 18-44 years, states and private hospitals have to place an order for vaccines directly with manufacturing companies and procure them at their own expense.

The Centre will continue to supply vaccines free of cost only for existing Phase 1 and 2 beneficiaries (healthcare workers, frontline workers and those above the age of 45).

Punjab Health Secretary Hussan Lal said the doses which will be supplied by the Centre are strictly earmarked for 45+ population only under the national vaccination programme and these cannot be diverted for vaccination of 18-44 population. “Those who need their second shots will be given on priority,” he added.

Meanwhile, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu told The Indian Express that the state was administering 80,000-90,000 doses a day, and the supply of 5.62 lakh doses from the Centre wouldn’t last a week.

“These are simply aren’t enough. We need at least 15 lakh doses for next 15 days. We have at least 60 lakh people in Punjab aged 45 and above and we are targeting to vaccinate them all. This allocation isn’t enough for 15 days,” said Sidhu.
He added that for vaccine supply for the age group 18-44, there hasn’t been any response from the Serum Institute of India (SII) with respect to an order of 30 lakh doses. “There’s no update, they haven’t promised any supply yet,” said Sidhu. “We are yet to contact Bharat Biotech for Covaxin as their prices are little higher.”

Main elements of the Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy that came into effect on May 1, 2021:

– Vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to Government of India and would be free to supply remaining 50% doses to State Governments and in the ‘other than Government of India channel’ (to private hospitals etc)

– Manufacturers would in a transparent manner make an advance declaration of the price for 50% supply that would be available to state governments. Based on this price, states, private hospitals etc through their hospitals may procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers. Private Hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50% supply earmarked for other than Govt of India channel. The price charged for vaccination by private hospitals would be monitored.

– Consequently the present dispensation where private Covid vaccination centres receive doses from Govt and can charge up to Rs.250 per dose will cease to exist.

– For Govt of India vaccination centres, the eligible population would be the same which exists today i.e. Health Care Workers (HCWs), Front Line Workers (FLWs) and population above 45 years of age. For other than Govt of India channel, the eligibility would be all adult citizens of the country i.e. everyone above 18.

– Covid-19 vaccination will continue to be free for eligible population groups in all those Government Covid Vaccination Centres which receive vaccine doses from Govt of India.

– All vaccination (through Govt. of India vaccination centres and other than Govt. of India channel) would be part of the National Vaccination Programme.

– Govt of India, from its share, will allocate vaccines to States/UTs based on the criteria of performance (speed of administration, average consumption), extent of infections (number of active Covid cases). Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in the criteria & will affect the allocation negatively. Based on the above criteria, State-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the States in advance.

– Second dose of all existing priority groups i.e. HCWs, FLWs and population above 45 years, where ever it has become due, would be given priority.

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