Assam govt halts first dose of Covaxin due to shortage: Minister

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Guwahati, Jun 4 (PTI) The Assam government has stopped administering the first dose of Covaxin due to its shortage, and will accord priority to 1.50 lakh people who are due for the second dose of the jab, a state minister said on Friday.

The current stock of Covaxin in the state is 20,000 but 'we will get 50,000 more doses within the next few days', Minister for Health and Family Welfare Keshab Mahanta said.

He also urged those who are slated for the second dose to not panic as the gap between the two doses has been increased from 28 to 42 days, and said they will be inoculated within the stipulated time.

The state has received 15,000 doses of vaccine on Friday, he added.

Assam has 3.20 doses of Covishield and the vaccination process with it will continue as per schedule, the minister said.

'We are trying to procure more vaccines and for this purpose, we have decided to give interest-free loans for three months to private hospitals who are interested in buying jabs from the Centre,' Mahanta said.

The minister said at present, an average of 50,000 people are being vaccinated daily in Assam, but it will be raised to 70,000 soon.

The inoculation process will be intensified in six districts where positive cases and death rates are relatively high, and these include Kamrup Metro, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Cachar, Nagaon and Sonitpur.

He said the vaccination exercise has been simplified for tea garden workers, vagrants, ascetics and others who do not have identity cards.

Plans are also afoot to vaccinate the elderly, disabled and others suffering from certain ailments at their homes or places closer to their residence.

A total of 42,33,385 doses have been administered to beneficiaries in the state so far, Mahanta said. PTI DG RBT RBT