As May 1 is approaching, the government is most likely to take a decision whether to bear the cost of particular sections of people for third phase vaccination when people aged above 18 years to 45 years will get the jabs.
According to sources Odisha has around 1.93 crore people in the age group of 18 to 35 and it will require the state government to spend Rs 1600 crore to vaccinate them.
The sources added that consultations are under way on whether the state will bear the cost of all or will have certain exclusion and inclusion criteria for free vaccination in this age group. Besides, serious churning is going on if the state will bear the cost of people belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL), Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), pregnant women and lactating mothers or work out income bracket criteria.
The registration for vaccination for people from 18 to 45 will start on April 28. It is expected that the state government will take a decision on free vaccination of these people by that date.
Since 1.93 crore people will undergo vaccination, the government is expected to substantially increase the number of vaccination centres from the current around 1500.
On April 22, the state health department asked to suspend the ongoing vaccination on Saturdays and Sundays in view of week-end shutdown and short supply of vaccine while undertaking it on the rest five days in the week, including on holidays.
The government also asked district administrations to stop vaccine supply to private vaccination centres from May 1 when they would source their vaccines directly from the manufacturers from the 50 per cent vaccine doses earmarked for the ‘other than Government of India channels.
Serum Institute of India (SII) has on Wednesday announced the prices for its vaccine — Rs 400 per dose to states, and Rs 600 per dose to hospitals. Bharat Biotech and Dr Reddy’s (which will distribute the Russian Sputnik V shot) have not made an announcement yet.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla has been vocal about supplying to hospitals, rather than to states. He believes hospitals are better placed to carry out the vaccination exercise; besides, states are expected to get some free supplies from the Centre anyway. Buying is an “option” for states and not mandatory, he has said.
In this context, the Odisha government must clarify whether it will procure vaccines from the SII, Bharat Biotech or any other manufacturer and at which prices. Besides, it must make it public on its consultation with the Centre with regard to vaccine supplies. So that people will have no ambiguity on the vaccination exercises.
On Thursday, Odisha vaccinated a total 81,684 doses of the vaccine. With this the total doses vaccinated in state so far rose to 54.41 lakh doses. Total number of people who have been vaccinated for complete two doses increased to 8.03 lakh.
On Thursday, the state received another two lakh doses of Covaxin. Now, the state’s current availability of vaccine now stands at 3.89 lakh doses of Covaxin and 1.90 lakh doses of Covishield.
Let’s hope the availability of vaccines does not turn to be a major political issue.