India’s Ambitious Phase-3 Vaccination Drive On A Partial Standstill, Begins In 5 States Only

India’s Ambitious Phase-3 Vaccination Drive On A Partial Standstill

Amid the rise in cases and deaths due to COVID-19, the ill-management, and shortage in the supply of vaccines has halted the Indian government’s ambitious phase-3 vaccination drive.

India gears up for its Liberalised and Accelerated phase-3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination on May 1, which will be for all legal adults from the 18 to 44 age group. While the registration procedure had a rocky beginning a couple of days before, there is still abstruseness regarding phase-3 – will this be set in motion? Turns out, the rollout is slowed, thanks to the shortage of jabs.

As per the data released by the Union Health Ministry, more than 2.45 crore beneficiaries have registered themselves on the CoWin, a vaccination portal by the government. Ironically the ministry on Thursday, which is two prior to phase 3, said there is ‘one crore vaccine doses still available with the states’ and they will receive’ 20 lakh more doses in the next few days. However, it seems like the youth of India will have a long wait as states have different things to say.

One state after another is coming out announcing that it won’t be able to start phase-3. The reason cited is “no confirmation on vaccine supply”, “vaccine shortage”, “small stock of vaccination for the mass population”. However, five states – Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat – will begin their vaccination drive with the nominal vaccines they have, but not in all districts.

Others like, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and others, are on the same page of not commencing phase-3 as yet. Several of these states have started vaccinating their legal adults with whatever is left with them.

State’s Stand

Delhi Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal on Friday, i.e., a day before the D-Day, appealed to people to not line up outside vaccination centers on Saturday. “Vaccines have not reached us yet. We are keeping a check with companies making the vaccine and are hopeful that they will reach up by tomorrow or the day after. Please do not line up outside the vaccination centers tomorrow as it can result in a law and order situation and lack of social distancing,” the minister said.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the state won’t commence an inoculation drive for people in the age group of 18 to 44 unless it gets 25 to 30 lakh vaccine vials. However, nominal vaccination will carry on as long as stocks of vaccines exist.

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Madhya Pradesh CM has halted the phase-3 drive citing similar reasons. “Covishield and Covaxin manufacturers are unable to provide us doses for those above 18 years of age. So the drive won’t start on May 1. Hopefully will be getting vaccine doses around May 3,” the minister said to the press.

Even BJP-ruled Gujarat is on a similar stand. CM Vijay Rupani stated that phase-3 will be started on the latest by May 15 and not May 1 given the shortage of vaccine in the state.

Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said the state needs at least 10 lakh doses of vaccine in order to start the phase-3 vaccination drive. “We are not getting adequate doses of vaccines. That is why we are facing problems. We have staff and required infrastructure for the vaccine,” Sindhu told PTI. The state is said to decide the dates of the third phase as per the supply of vaccines from the manufacturers.

Andhra Pradesh too has cited similar reasons for not beginning the drive. As per an official release from the CMO’s office, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on April 29 said, “As per the availability of stocks and eligible people (18 to 44 years) in the country, the complete vaccination process for them will not be completed until January 2022.” The state is said to be in a difficult position as there is no confirmation regarding the supply of vaccines from the manufacturers. Telangana and Goa, too, are in a similar position as Andhra Pradesh.

According to the health ministry, as of May 1, India reported 4,01,993 fresh COVID-19 cases with 3,523 death cases in just 24 hours and yet only 9 percent of India’s population has been received a dose of vaccine since January. While only 1.8 percent (24.5 million) have been given both doses of vaccine.

India at present has two approved vaccines for its one billion population which are Covishield by Oxford’s AstraZeneca manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech. As per reports, Russia’s Sputnik V is too will enter Indian markets in the coming week.

Phase 3 For COVID-19 Vaccination Begins On May 1

What is phase-3?

Phase 1 and Phase 2 covered the COVID-19 vaccination plan for all people above 60 (as well as people with comorbidities who were allowed for the vaccine) and people aged 45 and above, respectively. Now, phase-3 will be for all legal adults i.e., 18 years and above.

How to register for the vaccine?

As per the Government of India, the registration process will be conducted through CoWIN portal, Aarogya Setu, and Umang application. Registration will be done online, using your photo ID and mobile number. One mobile phone number can register up to 4 people but each of them will need their own photo ID. After registration, one will have to schedule the vaccination appointment at a center of choice from May 1 onwards.

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