SHORTLY AFTER Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation spoke of the world’s largest vaccination drive underway in India, two BJP-ruled states – Uttar Pradesh and Assam – announced that they would provide free Covid vaccination to those aged above 18 from May 1.
“We have decided to vaccinate all above 18 years free of cost. The state government will take forward the vaccination programme with its own resources,” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said in a statement after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday evening.
Expressing gratitude to the central government for bringing down the age bar for vaccination to 18, he said it was a “great relief” as it will provide a safety shield to every adult, thus giving a major boost to the war against the pandemic.
“In the second wave of this pandemic, it is the youths who seem to be more vulnerable as the numbers indicate. It was essential to provide them protection as people under 45 years of age have to stay outdoors in order to take care of their parents or children,” Adityanath said.
He urged that youths must not take the pandemic lightly and strictly follow the Covid-19 protocol.
“The new wave is a result of carelessness as people stopped using masks and did not maintain social distancing,” he said. “I would like to express my gratitude to PM Modi and the Central government for making two indigenous Covid vaccines available to all countrymen above 18 in time and also to the scientists who worked tirelessly to develop the same.”
Making a similar announcement, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted: “Assam will give FREE vaccines to everyone from 18-45 years. GOI is giving free vaccines for 45 +.”
Funds collected in Assam Arogya Nidhi last year shall be utilised for procurement of the vaccines, Sarma said. “Today itself, we’ve placed orders for 1 cr doses with Bharat Biotech.”
Sarma posted a letter written on Tuesday to Bharat Biotech by Samir Sinha, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Government of Assam. Sinha wrote that the Assam government plans that a “maximum number of eligible people in the below 45 years age category in the state are able to get the benefits of vaccination in the shortest possible time”.
The letter said the government of Assam proposes to procure one crore doses of Covaxin at the rate to be fixed by the Government of India. “For this purpose, the terms and conditions of delivery and payment along with schedule of supplies may please be intimated at the earliest,” the letter said.
While Uttar Pradesh, which is currently the second worst-affected state currently, recorded 29,754 covid positive cases in the past 24 hours, Assam recorded 1,651 fresh cases.
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