New Delhi, Lucknow: The BJP-ruled states of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have announced that they will begin Covid-19 vaccinations for those in the 18-44 age bracket from 1 May, even as most other states struggle to procure doses for the massive inoculation drive.
Both states have said that they will begin the vaccine drive selectively, in certain districts, before opening it up completely.
The announcement comes when several other states, including Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab and Uttarakhand, have declared that they do not have sufficient doses to roll out the third phase of vaccinations that targets inoculating all adults.
The case of Gujarat
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s promise Friday, to begin the vaccination drive on 1 May, came a day after he indicated it may not start on time.
“Vaccination for the 18-45 age group will begin once we get substantial doses of vaccines from the pharma companies, which is likely to happen soon,” he had said Thursday. “Latest by 15 May, the drive will start as we expect to get vaccine doses any time before that date.”
However, he announced through a video message Friday that the vaccination drive will begin in 10 of Gujarat’s most-affected districts — Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Kutch, Mehsana, Bharuch and Gandhinagar.
“Vaccination for those in the 18-45 age group will begin on May 1, which is also Gujarat foundation day. We have ordered 2.5 crore doses from two pharma companies and by this evening we will get three lakh doses. The stock will be airlifted,” he said in the video.
CM Shri @vijayrupanibjp in a video message assures people about the commencement of corona vaccination for the 18+ people from tomorrow, May 1, the Gujarat Foundation Day, in 10 most-affected districts and will cover the entire State as soon as the vaccine availability increases. pic.twitter.com/dXkoF3zY0v
— CMO Gujarat (@CMOGuj) April 30, 2021
Gujarat had announced on 25 April that it would provide the vaccine for free to its 3.24 crore residents.
The state government has ordered two crore doses of Covishield from the Serum Institute of India (SII) and 50 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech.
ThePrint contacted Jayanti Ravi, Principal Secretary, Health, and Jaiprakash Shivhare, Health Commissioner, but they did not respond to calls till the time of publishing this report.
UP to start third phase of vaccination in 7 districts
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government also announced Friday that it will launch its vaccination drive from the seven high Covid burden districts of Lucknow, Prayagraj, Kanpur, Meerut, Bareilly, Varanasi and Gorakhpur.
Addressing the daily Covid-19 briefing, Additional Chief Secretary (health) Amit Mohan said, “We are going to start the third phase of vaccination from 1 May for the 18-45 age category. As of now, it will only be in seven districts where there are a lot of active cases. We will add more districts later.”
With around 99,75,626 people having received the first dose and around 21,13,088 people fully vaccinated, Uttar Pradesh accounted for the maximum number of persons vaccinated, he added.
Navneet Sehgal, additional Chief Secretary, Information, told ThePrint that the vaccines are arriving later tonight.
“We have placed an order for 50 lakh to each manufacturer,” he said. “Vaccines are arriving tonight. We have sent a state plane to get them.”
An official in the Chief Minister’s Office said that the state had also floated a global tender for vaccines.
“To ensure regular availability of Covid vaccines and to ensure that the vaccination drive is carried out without any hindrances, the state will receive a total of one crore vaccines for the next phase of vaccination,” he said, adding, “Both SII and Bharat Biotech will provide 50 lakh doses each. In addition to this, the state government has also floated a global tender to purchase four to five crore doses of the Covid vaccine.”
The CMO official also said the pace of the vaccination drive would be “slightly slow” at the start, but “as soon as we receive vaccines from the global tender, the campaign will get faster”. About 9 crore people between 18 and 45 years of age will benefit, he added.
In a statement released Friday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that it was essential to vaccinate those under 45 years of age.
“In the second wave of this pandemic, it is the youth who seem to be more vulnerable as the numbers indicate,” the statement read. “The vaccination drive must be carried with full force. People aged 45 and above will be provided vaccines on four days of the week, whereas people aged between 18 to 45 will be administered the doses on Fridays and Saturdays,” it added.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)
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