Amid an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases, India began its third phase of vaccination on Saturday for all adults between 18 to 44 age groups. However, only six states will be able to start vaccination from today, all other states and Union territories have deferred the inoculation process fearing vaccine shortage.
Even in this six states-Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Gujarat, the vaccination will be limited to few districts. Maharashtra, the worst affected Covid-19 state, received three lakh Covishield doses after which chief minister Uddhav Thackeray announced that everyone above 18 years of age will be inoculated and the state would bear the cost of coverage.
Several states like Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Bengal, Kerala, Jharkhand and Punjab have red-flagged the shortage of vaccines, saying they won’t be able to extend the coverage to all adults above 18 years of age in phase-3. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had urged citizens not to queue up for Covid shots, as the government will let them know as soon as vaccines arrive. He informed that both vaccine makers, Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech will provide Delhi with 67 lakh doses each over next two months.
The Tamil Nadu government has also said it is awaiting 1.5 crore doses, Bengal too is running low on vaccines and may not be able to kick-start vaccine drive from today, a senior health department official said. Telangana too has said it’s running low on vaccine stocks.
The Centre, however, clarified that more than 16.33 crore Covid vaccine doses have been provided to states and union territories for free. And over 1 crore doses are still available in stocks with them, said Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan adding that of this, the total consumption including wastages is 15,33,56,503 doses.
The registration for the third phase of the vaccination programme began on April 28 on the government’s CoWIN app, Aarogya setu app, and Umang app. Over 2.45 crore people have so far registered themselves on the CoWin website in the third phase, said an official statement from the health ministry.