People wait to get tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai. The May 1st Phase, if executed successfully, will cover the most mobile section of the population in India. (AP Photo)
From May 1st, every India above the age of 18 years will be eligible for taking the vaccine against the Covid-19 infection, the Narendra Modi government announced on Monday. The decision was taken after the Prime Minister held a virtual meet with the top doctors of the country. Phase 3 of the vaccination drive will begin on May 1st.
Some key points such as whether the young beneficiaries will also get the vaccine free at the government Covid centres are yet to be announced. The Centre has asked the companies to scale up the production of the vaccines as the Phase 3 drive will increase the demand for the jabs. Another important aspect of the Phase 3 vaccination is that the Modi government has decentralized the vaccine order format. This means that the states would now be able to directly place an order to the vaccine manufacturers.
According to the Centre, the vaccine manufacturers can now not only have a pact with the state governments but they can now directly supply the vaccine in the open markets. However, the pricing needs to be discussed with the Centre. So far, the CoWin portal has not been updated for the new set of beneficiaries.
The Centre has also said that the beneficiaries getting the free vaccine as per Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the vaccination drive will continue to get the free jabs. The Narendra Modi government had launched the mass vaccination drive on January 16 this year. Phase 1 was exclusively for the frontline workers. In Phase 2, which was launched on March 1st, the government opened up the vaccination for the general public. But there was an age limit. It was only for the senior citizens. Later, the age criteria were reduced to 45 years. Now, from May 1st, every single adult in India will be eligible for the Covid jab.
It should be noted that ex-PM Dr Manmohan Singh had also advised some sort of decentralisation in a bid to strengthen India’s strategy against coronavirus pandemic.