State government likely to announce free vaccination drive for citizens above 18 years of age

The central government recently asked the states to begin the third phase of COVID-19 vaccination from May 1, 2021. However, as per the revised guideliens, the state will now have to purchase the vaccines directly from the pharmaceutical companies.

State government likely to announce free vaccination drive for citizens above 18 years of age

Starting May 1, 2021, the government has issued the guidelines for allowing all citizens above the age of 18 years to be vaccinated for coronavirus and following the directives, the state government of Maharashtra has also decided to begin the same. 

However, citizens in the state are not sure if the vaccine will be given for free or if the citizens will have to pay for the same. Discussions regarding the same are also being held among the officials and as per reports, the government has been planning to give the vaccine at no cost for the people in Maharashtra. An announcement in this regard is expected soon.

Currently, the Central Government is providing free vaccines to all persons above the age of 45 years, and the vaccine is available at a private hospital for INR 250. In addition, the Center recently announced the vaccination drive for all persons above the age of 18 years to be vaccinated and has also allowed the state governments to purchase vaccines directly from companies. 

Following this, companies have been instructed to announce their rates basis which the state governments will have to decide on purchasing the vaccines for the next phase of the drive.

According to the recent reports, the Serum Institute of India mentioned that its vaccine 'Covishield' will be sold at INR 150 to the Center, INR 400 to the state and INR 600 to private hospitals. However, officials have responded stating that this will put a huge burden on the governments to buy the vaccine.  Moreover, several citizens will not be able to afford the same.

Keeping the same in mind, the state government is planning to issue free vaccines to the poor In Maharashtra and this will be applicable for all citizens above 18 years. The cost of procuring this is expected to be between 6 to 8 crores. In such a situation, the government will have to buy at least 12 crore doses of vaccine. 

Addressing the same a few days ago and while addressing the media, Maharashtra state's Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the price of the vaccine should be charged only from the wealthy people in the state, which will help the poor get the vaccines for free. 

On being asked about the same, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that the Chief Minister will announce his position on free vaccines on May 1, 2021. 

On the other hand, officials from the Serum Institute of India have confirmed that the state would not be able to vaccinate on a large scale currently and the drive will be conduced as per the available capacity. Other vaccines are expected to be delivered by other pharmaceutical companies, and keeping this in mind, the state government has decided to issue a global tender for the supply of Remdesivir injections and the required COVID-19 vaccines.

The process for this is expected to begin on May 1, 2021, and a five-member committee has been set up under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary. The Cabinet has given full powers to the Chief Secretary to take decisions, informed Ajit Pawar

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