‘T.N. can vaccinate 6 cr. people in 5 months’

It can be done if Union government provides 12 cr. doses, says Health Minister

Tamil Nadu will be able to complete the vaccination of six crore eligible people in five months if the Union government provides 12 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said.

“During my recent meeting with the Union Health Minister, I raised the need for 12 crore doses to vaccinate the eligible population of six crore people above the age of 18 with two doses of the vaccines. As of now, we have received nearly 1.8 crore doses, and need at least 10 crore more. We have adequate infrastructure to administer two crore doses a month, and will complete vaccination in five months in the State,” he told The Hindu on Monday.

He said the State’s population had crossed eight crore, of which six crore people were eligible for vaccination.

There is widespread awareness of vaccination among the people of the State, he said, adding, “Unlike in other parts of the country, where frontline workers were threatened with the sack if they didn’t get the jab, or were offered 20 kg of wheat to get vaccinated, people in Tamil Nadu are ready to get vaccinated due to better awareness.”

Mr. Subramanian said the Union Health Minister had assured him that the supply would improve after a month, as there were certain issues at the manufacturing centres at present. “I also reiterated the need for the Union government to procure 90% instead of 75% of the vaccines produced, as the 25% allocation for private hospitals is largely underutilised. Not even 10% of the vaccines are utilised in the private sector, and there is a lot of stagnation,” he said.

To promote vaccination, the Minister is set to hold meetings with some major private hospitals. “I am holding a meeting with major hospitals in the western belt in Coimbatore tomorrow. This will be with hospitals in Coimbatore, Karur and Erode. We are going to ask them to administer more vaccines to the people. The service charge is around ₹150, and they should not leave behind vaccination as it is not that profitable. Our other request is for Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Vaccines can be procured and given to private hospitals so that more people could be covered,” the Minister said.

He charged the former AIADMK government with ignoring the warnings of a second wave, which resulted in largescale impact. “We had to face a situation in which there was no oxygen, no vacant beds and no drugs like Remdesivir. But we went on to ramp up infrastructure, creating nearly 80,000 beds, a majority of which are oxygen-supported beds,” he said.

‘Infrastructure intact’

Through the Union government, about 20 of the 70 proposed oxygen generator plants were opened, while another 10 were started through CSR initiatives. Besides, the government got thousands of oxygen concentrators and distributed them to hospitals, he said.

“All these infrastructure facilities, including permanent beds and oxygen facilities, will not be dismantled. They will remain intact for another six months, till we ascertain whether there is a third wave,” he said.

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