Despite shortage, CM keen to start vaccination for 18-44 age group today

Despite an acute paucity of vaccines, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was eager to start the third phase of the vaccination drive for citizens in the 18-44 age group on the occasion of Maharashtra Day on May 1, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Friday.

Stating that Maharashtra had the capacity to conduct eight lakh vaccinations a day, Mr. Tope said he hoped that the Centre would give the State more vaccines keeping in mind its inoculation capabilities.

“While we certainly will not be able to inoculate many persons in the 18-44 age group owing to the unavailability of vaccines, the Chief Minister is disposed towards starting the drive in at least a limited manner,” he said, while stressing that the vaccination would be carried out as per the Centre’s guidelines.

The Health Minister had earlier said that the State government would be spending ₹6,500 crore to provide free vaccine jabs to all citizens between 18 and 44 years, and that it would require at least 12 crore vials to inoculate 5.71 crore people in this age category over a six-month period.

Mr. Tope said that Maharashtra, among all the States in the country, was ahead in daily vaccinations and had the best record in the country in terms of vaccine wastage figure.

“Maharashtra’s vaccine wastage figure is barley 1% which is even better than India’s figure of 6%. The State has 13,000 big and small organisations affiliated to the Public Health Department alone. With this infrastructure, we have been able to conduct a record 5.34 lakh vaccinations in a day,” Mr. Tope said.

He said if the Centre could give Maharashtra a stock of even 50-60 lakh vaccines over the next few days, then the State government could commence the third phase of inoculation in a relatively smooth manner.

“One thing is certain, however, that if we begin vaccination in the 18-44 age group, then the number of centres will be severely reduced as we are not going to have the requisite number of vaccines,” he said, adding that there would probably only be a handful in each district catering to this age group.

Mr. Tope also said that more clarification on the third phase was needed from the Centre.

“Both Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have said that 50% of the vaccines they produce will go to the Centre. The remaining includes supplies to States and private and industrial hospitals. Given that the demands from all States and private hospitals across the country will be huge, will the Centre be regulating in this matter? And on what parameters will they regulate?” Mr. Tope said.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 5:15:38 PM |

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