The third phase of the countrywide Covid-19 vaccination drive begins today. Under this phase, all adults will be able to avail coronavirus vaccines. People aged 18-44 years, will have to book an appointment for the shot at either a government health centre or at a private hospital. People above 45 years can walk-in at any government vaccination centre and get inoculated. All adults can log on to the government’s CoWin or Aarogya Setu apps to register themselves for the vaccine at any government health centre near them.
Private hospitals taking part in the third phase of the drive include Apollo, Fortis and Max. Covid-19 vaccines will be available for the 18-44 age group at a few select centres of these hospitals throughout the country from today.
While Apollo Hospitals said jabs will be given at "limited facilities", Max Healthcare announced the drive will begin from "select hospitals in the network in the NCR of Delhi".
Fortis Healthcare, in a statement, said people in the 18-44 age group will be administered Covaxin for Rs 1,250, which will include the cost of vaccine and administration charges, at its "centres across north India from tomorrow (Saturday)".
Fortis centres in other cities will commence vaccination as soon as supplies are made available by the authorities, it said.
However, even as the Centre has decided to launch the third phase of the drive today, many states are facing a massive vaccine shortage and have announced that they will not be able to vaccinate the 18-44 age group from today.
The states and Union Territories that will be deferring the inoculation for people below 45 years include- Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Puducherry.
Responding to these states citing a shortage of doses, the Centre on Friday said some states, which have already coordinated with manufacturers, will kick off the drive on Saturday.
It further stressed that any new exercise takes time to pick up pace and this phase three of the vaccination drive too will stabilise over time.
Some states announced phase three of the immunisation drive in selected districts, while some announced vaccination for different age groups also such as those above 35 years.
At a press conference on Friday, Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said the states are coordinating with vaccine manufacturers for procuring the doses and the Centre is providing the required support.
"Vaccination will be launched tomorrow in some states which have already coordinated with manufacturers. Any new exercises or process takes time to pick up pace and gradually more centres will be increased. The programme will stabilise in some time," he said.
This is a paid programme unless the state governments subsidise it, Agarwal said, adding free vaccination of priority groups by the Government of India will continue.
He also said so far over 15 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses have been given for free by the Centre in coordination with states.
To queries on whether private hospitals will be able to vaccinate those aged above 45 years, he said all priority groups such as the healthcare and frontline workers and citizens above 45 years shall continue to be eligible for vaccination free of cost from government Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs).
As provided in the Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy document, all priority groups such as healthcare workers, frontline workers and citizens aged 45 years and above shall continue to be eligible for vaccination for free from government CVCs and on payment from private CVCs.
From May 1, the types of anti-coronavirus vaccines and their prices will be displayed on the CoWIN portal for the citizens to make an informed choice at the time of booking an appointment at a private vaccination centre, according to the Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy document.
Vaccine manufacturers would make an advance declaration of the price for 50 per cent supply that would be available to state governments in the open market before May 1. Based on this price, states, private hospitals, industrial establishments may procure vaccine doses from manufacturers.
Private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50 per cent supply earmarked, other than the Government of India channel.
(With PTI inputs)
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine