COVID-19 vaccination for people above 18 years deferred in several States

The phase three of inoculation drive covering all adults is scheduled to begin on May 1

Several States including Delhi, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have deferred the third phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive, which is scheduled to be rolled out for all adults from May 1. Punjab, Gujarat, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh too have flagged shortage of vaccine.

Delhi Chief Minister on Friday said all citizens would be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the next three months, but appealed to citizens against queuing up outside vaccination centres in the Capital from Saturday.

“Our intent is to ensure that all the citizens of Delhi are vaccinated against COVID in the next 3 months. We are yet to receive vaccine shots to be administered and are in touch with the company manufacturing it; we should start receiving it over two to three days,” Mr. Kejriwal said during a digital briefing. “My appeal to the people is to not start queuing up outside vaccination centres so that social distancing and law and order issues don’t arise,” he added.

Karnataka’s Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar too made a similar appeal. “We have placed orders for one crore doses of vaccine and the manufacturers are yet to officially give us confirmation as to when they will be able to deliver. Till we intimate you, please do not visit hospitals although you have enrolled on the CoWIN portal,” the Minister said. The State has an estimated 3.5 crore people in this category. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had on Thursday said that the fourth phase of vaccination will be taken up in stages in the State.

Tamil Nadu had placed an order of 1.5 crore doses of vaccine, which is yet to arrive. State Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan told reporters: "instead of waiting till tomorrow (and disappoint people), I wish to clarify (now) that we are unsure when and how much out of 1.5 crore doses of vaccine sought by Tamil Nadu, will arrive." Asked if the vaccination will not happen tomorrow, the secretary shot back, "we don’t know if we will get (vaccines) tomorrow and how much."

The Arunachal Pradesh government has officially deferred the roll-out of the COVID-19 inoculation drive for those in the 18-44 years age group until further orders citing "technical" issues.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration said the new date for vaccination drive will be announced once the supply is established. Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo said the union territory expects to receive vaccines by May 20.

Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said the vaccination drive for all above 18 years in the state may get delayed as there were not enough doses of the COVID vaccine. "We are not getting adequate doses of vaccines. That is why we are facing problems. We have staff and required infrastructure for vaccination,” Sidhu told reporters.

A senior official of Telangana health department said though the state government is in touch with vaccine manufacturers, there is no certainty on when the stocks would be available for the mass vaccination. "We are in touch with the manufacturers also. We are in search of the vaccine. We require around four crore doses," Telangana Public Health Director G Srinivasa Rao told PTI.

According to a senior official in Andhra Pradesh government, inoculation may not start on May 1 in the state as planned due to delay in procurement of vaccine from manufacturers.

The state government has already written to the manufacturers for vaccine supplies and yet to get confirmation from them, the official added.

An official release from Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s office said as per the availability of stocks, the complete vaccination process for the age group (18 to 44 years) in the country will not be completed until January next year.

Asserting that the state government has made all the necessary arrangements for giving vaccines to those over 18 years free of cost, a statement from the Gujarat government said,"the vaccination process will start once the state receives substantial numbers of vaccine doses from pharma companies."

Meanwhile, in Mumbai, a civic official said vaccination against COVID-19 in the city will have to be suspended for the next two days if enough fresh stock is not provided.

The West Bengal government has written to the Centre, seeking supply of at least three crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines for state-run and private hospital. "The three crore doses is needed to vaccinate 1.5 crore people in West Bengal in the phase scheduled to start from May 1. We will send more requisitions in subsequent phases," an official told PTI adding that the State will pay for the vaccines.

However, the Union Health Ministry said more than one crore COVID-19 vaccine doses are still available with the states and UTs which will receive an additional nearly 20 lakh doses within the next 3 days. The Government of India has so far provided nearly 16.33 crore vaccine doses (16,33,85,030) to states and UTs free of cost. Of this, the total consumption including wastage is 15,33,56,503 doses, the ministry said.

More than 2.45 crore beneficiaries have registered themselves on the Co-WIN digital platform ahead of the Phase-3 of the COVID-19 vaccination for those above 18 years that is set to start from May 1, according to the Union Health Ministry.

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