In a significant shift in its policy on Covid-19 vaccination, India, which is witnessing an unprecedented surge, Monday announced that every citizen above the age of 18 years will be eligible for a vaccine shot from May 1. The decision came after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In another shift in the policy, the Health Ministry said that 50 per cent of the vaccine supply will be made available directly to the open market and the state governments for the vaccination programme.
“Vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to centre government and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to state governments and in the open market,” the ministry said.
The Centre also said that vaccination shall continue as before in “Govt. of India vaccination centres, provided free of cost” to the eligible population as defined earlier: Health Care Workers (HCWs), Front Line Workers (FLWs), and all people above 45 years of age.
The third change in the policy will be that the Centre from its share will allocate vaccines to states “based on the criteria of extent of infection (number of active Covid cases) and performance (speed of administration)”.
The Centre added that “wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criteria and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above criteria, State-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the States adequately in advance.”
The Centre said manufacturers “would transparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50% supply that would be available to state governments and in open market” before May 1.
“Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments etc would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers,” the Centre said. Private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from this 50% supply.
“Private Vaccination providers shall transparently declare their self-set vaccination price. The eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, i.e. everyone above the age of 18,” it said.
While the split in vaccine supply will be “applicable uniformly across for all vaccines manufactured in the country”, the Centre has allowed “imported fully ready to use vaccines to be entirely utilised” in the non-government quota.