June 21 (IndiaToday) – Free coronavirus vaccines will be made available to states for vaccination of all above the age of 18 from today (June 21), as per the announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The move to provide free vaccines against Covid-19 to all adults in India is expected to give a boost to the vaccination drive. As of Monday, India has administered over 30 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines, according to the health ministry’s dashboard.
Saying that a new stage in fight against corona begins today, Union Minister Amit Shah said, “The PM made an important decision that from June 21 people who are 18 yrs of age & above will be vaccinated free of cost by central govt & the process of vaccination will be sped up.”
On June 7, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that all citizens aged 18 and above will be vaccinated free of cost from June 21 with the central government distributing doses to states.
Earlier, the government had said that any person over the age of 18 can walk in to a vaccination centre to get registered on the CoWin digital platform and be vaccinated against Covid-19. It is not mandatory to pre-register online or book an appointment to get the vaccine, the government said. India launched the world’s largest vaccination drive against Covid-19 on January 16 this year.
Here are details about Centre’s decision to provide free Covid vaccinations for adults from today:
The new vaccine policy: What did the Centre say?
Earlier this month, PM Modi announced that the central government will provide free coronavirus vaccines to states for inoculation of all above the age of 18 from June 21.
In an address to the nation, the PM said that the Centre has decided to buy 75 per cent of jabs from vaccine makers, including 25 per cent of the state quota, and give it for free to state governments.
Private sector hospitals can continue to procure 25 per cent of vaccines, but their service charge would be capped at Rs 150 per dose over a fixed price of the vaccine, PM Modi said.
“It has been decided today that the central government will take over the 25 per cent doses assigned to states and this will be implemented in the next two weeks. From June 21 (International Day of Yoga), the Centre will provide free vaccines to states…Till now, crores of people got free vaccines, now 18 years segment will be added to this,” Modi said.
“For all people, whether it is the poor, the lower middle class, the middle class, or the upper-middle class, under the central government programme, everyone will get free vaccines,” the prime minister said. “No state government will have to spend anything on vaccines,” the Prime Minister added.
He also said that those who do not want free vaccines can get them at private hospitals.
What are the main features of the new vaccine policy?
>> All Indian citizens above the age of 18 can avail free vaccination at any government facility. Earlier, the Centre was providing vaccines to the 45+ age group and frontline/health workers at government facilities across the country at zero cost.
>> The Centre will buy 75 per cent of the total vaccine production from vaccine manufacturers. It will then give the vaccine stock to the state governments free of cost. This means that state governments won’t have to spend anything on the vaccine.
Earlier, the Centre was buying 50% of vaccines manufactured in India, while states and private hospitals were picking 25% each.
>> Private sector hospitals can continue to procure the remaining 25 percent. The price of vaccine doses for private hospitals would be declared by each vaccine manufacturer, and any subsequent changes would be notified in advance. The private hospitals may charge up to a maximum of Rs 150 per dose as service charges. State governments may monitor the price being so charged.
>> Vaccine doses provided free of cost by the Centre will be allocated to states and union territories based on criteria such as population, disease burden and progress of vaccination.
>> Vaccination centres will provide onsite registration facilities. Online CoWin registration for Covid vaccine is not mandatory.
>> The states can avail the facilities of Common Service Centres (CSCs), call centres and Asha workers to help citizens book slots for vaccination.
Why this change in vaccine strategy?
The change in the government’s vaccine strategy came after the Supreme Court asked the Centre to place on record all relevant documents and file notings reflecting its thinking culminating in the Covid-19 vaccination policy, and states questioning the central government over the alleged shortage of vaccines.
Justice D Y Chandrachud questioned the vaccine procurement policy and also raised the issue of the digital divide questioning the policy of mandatory registration on CoWin app for jabs.
While elaborating on the reasons for the change in the vaccination policy, Modi said as the corona cases started declining, questions arose about the lack of choice for states and some people questioned why the central government is deciding everything.
Flexibility in lockdown and one-size-does-not-fit-all type of arguments were forwarded and the Centre took steps taking all such demands into account, he said.
How was the free vaccine decision received?
While BJP leaders and ministers lauded Prime Minister Modi for the new vaccination policy, many others on social media credited the Supreme Court and Justice Chandrachud for the change in the strategy.
Congress, meanwhile, asked the government to stop creating confusion with changing policies and demanded that every citizen should get Rs 6,000 in their accounts along with free vaccination.