Amid the Maharashtra government announcing its decision to vaccinate all adults aged 18-44 years free of cost, state health minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said that the third phase of the Covid-19 inoculation drive cannot be launched in Maharashtra from May 1 as the state is facing a shortage of vaccines.
The announcement comes in the backdrop of the Maharashtra government extending the weekend lockdown in the state by 15 days due to rising Covid-19 infections. The previous lockdown, which was imposed on April 4, was slated to end on April 30.
These developments follow a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, earlier today.
The cabinet’s decision of free vaccination is expected to cost the state government Rs 6,500 crore, Tope said.
"A citizen will be vaccinated for free only at government-run centres. Citizens will have to pay for vaccines at private facilities," he added.
Tope's remarks on the forthcoming drive wherein people above 18 years will become eligible for immunisation came amid reports that many people in Maharashtra are not getting the doses due to the shortage.
However, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday that the total COVID vaccine doses received by Maharashtra as onApril28 (at 8 am) are 1,58,62,470. Of this, the total consumption, including wastage (0.22 per cent), was 1,53,56,151.
"The balance of 5,06,319 vaccine doses is still available with the state for administration to the eligible population groups," the ministry said.
It said that 5,00,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine are in the pipeline for delivery in the next three days to Maharashtra.
The demand for the vaccines is on the rise in Maharashtra which is hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
As of April 27, the state's cumulative caseload stood at 44,10,085 while the count of fatalities was 66,179, the state health department had said.
Maharashtra had 6,72,434 active cases as on Tuesday, the officials had said.
On Wednesday, scores of people in many cities in the state, including Mumbai, couldn't get themselves inoculated due to the shortage of vaccines at various facilities.
According to the Maharashtra health department, the state has inoculated a total of 1,53,37,832 people so far, including 25,15,076 in Mumbai alone.
(With PTI inputs)