Updated: June 23, 2021 9:28:01 am
A war of words broke out between the ministers of the central government and the Delhi government over Delhi’s pace of vaccination, with Union ministers Hardeep Puri and Harsh Vardhan hitting out at the state for vaccinating “only” around 76,000 people on Monday.
“On a day when India vaccinated more than 84 lakh people, Delhi administered only 76,259 out of more than 11 lakh doses available. Why? Instead of focussing on the health and welfare of the people of Delhi, Kejriwal ji is busy in Punjab, searching for a Sikh CM face for his party,” Puri said. Vardhan, the Union Health Minister, also asked why Delhi vaccinated a small number despite having enough doses.
The Delhi government, however, said that the Centre had not given it a single vaccine dose as per the new policy, where procurement by states has been stopped. “Instead of making these statements and taking out press releases, the Centre should focus on improving the vaccination policy, which has seen a series of failures. Delhi has not got a single dose under the new policy. We had told the Centre earlier that we have excess supply of doses for the 45-plus category and asked for permission to use that stock for those above the age of 18. The Centre did not grant us permission. Now, through a press release, they have tried to sneak in permission to use these vaccines for all,” said AAP MLA Atishi.
She was referring to a Union Health Ministry press release, which stated that starting June 21, “both the State Government and Government of India supplies, irrespective of the type of supply, are to be used for population above 18 years as all categories of priority groups are now unified and are to be provided vaccination free of cost” at government centres. In Delhi, vaccination at government centres was free to begin with.
Atishi said that close to 50% of those in the 45-plus age group had been vaccinated, and Delhi had enough stock for up to two months for them. “Many people in this age group also contracted Covid in the recent wave and are not eligible to get vaccinated. There is some hesitancy as well. Vaccination has plateaued for this category, but for a long time, it was the only category for which we had vaccines,” she said. As of Tuesday morning, Delhi government had 10.62 lakh vaccines.
Delhi government officials said that the Centre’s allusion that Delhi is going slow on vaccination is negated by numbers. “33% of the population eligible for vaccination in the city has got at least one dose. We have previously vaccinated over one lakh people a day and are ready to do more, provided we are assured supplies,” a senior official said.
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