‘Health minister didn’t suggest’: Centre on Maharashtra’s plan to halt vaccination for 18-44 age group

As Maharashtra plans to halt the vaccination of people between the age group of 18 and 44 years to give priority to those above the age of 45 years, the Centre has clarified that the suggestion did not comes from Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, unlike what state health minister Rajesh Tope claimed during a press meet on Tuesday.

“I have personally talked to Dr harsh Vardhan. The Centre actually does not have vaccines, he told me. So, he also thinks that there is no other way. We have to divert the doses meant for 18+ people to those 45+. For the 18-44 age group vaccination, we have to go slow because vaccines are not available. We want to purchase vaccines from abroad also, but vaccines are not there,” Rajesh Tope said.

The minister said the government will be diverting three lakh vials of Covaxin, originally meant for the 18+ population to 45+ people. According to data, more than five lakh 45+ in Maharashtra are awaiting their second dose of vaccine.

The Centre on Tuesday asked states to prioritise the administration of the second dose of the vaccine, but the Centre clarified it didn’t suggest the Maharashtra government repurpose vaccines allotted for citizens aged between 18 to 44 years in the state for those aged 45 and above.

Though the number of fresh cases in Maharashtra is coming down amid the strict restrictions imposed in the city, the state continues to report the highest number of daily cases. As the state is also reporting the highest number of people receiving vaccination per day, its vaccine stock is getting over soon. In the third phase of vaccination, which began from May 1, the Centre allowed states to also procure vaccines directly from the vaccine makers.

The health minister said Maharashtra needs two crore vaccine doses every month to inoculate the entire population of the state in the next six months, but no supplier can make so many vials. The government has not yet received any response from Russian Direct Investment Authority on Sputnik V.


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