Central Urgent Need for States to Procure Covid-19 Vaccines

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The Centre has ceased providing Covid-19 vaccine doses to states since April, nearly 27 months after the vaccination drive began in January 2021. States have been instructed to procure doses directly from manufacturers to prevent wastage from bulk purchases. The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement following a high-level meeting, advising states to independently procure necessary vaccine doses without prior approval from the Union Ministry of Health. It remains unclear whether the Centre will cover the cost of these doses, but officials from states have stated that they are making their own budgetary provisions.

Previously, the Centre provided free doses to states for administering primary and precautionary vaccine shots. However, with most doses expiring at the end of March, several states are experiencing stock-outs. The Centre’s decision to halt bulk purchases is due to low demand, with production for Covaxin and Covishield being stopped. The number of vaccines administered per day has significantly decreased since April, despite an increase in Covid-19 cases. As a result, states are facing challenges in vaccinating their populations.

The Centre reportedly surrendered 85% of the budget allocated for Covid-19 vaccination in October last year, with 1.8 crore doses still available in stock. At a recent meeting, Principal Secretary, PMO, P K Mishra, emphasized the need for states to be prepared at the sub-district level to manage local surges and monitor cases of influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory infections to identify emerging hotspots.

Coronavirus vaccination, India vaccine policy

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