Health ministry officials said registrations for vaccination against COVID-19 for all those above the age of 18 would begin from 28 April on the CoWIN platform and Aarogya Setu app.
They added that the CoWin portal would be made ready for beneficaries above the age of 18 by 24 April and that the inoculation process and documents to be submitted to get the jab remains the same as before.
This clarification comes just hours after National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma told CNBC-18 that people above 18 will be able to register on the platform from 24 April.
Sharma also said that while people above 18 will be able to register on the platform that does not necessarily mean they will be able to get an appointment.
"Registering and getting an appointment are two different things," Sharma said. "People will not be able to get an appointment until those facilities their schedules or timetables on the CoWin platform."
"People should go to vaccination centres only by appointment. We need to avoid crowding at vaccination centres," he said.
Sharma also said people between the ages of 18 and 45 will not be able to avail free vaccinations at Central government-run hospitals. Sharma said those above 45 can continue to avail of free vaccinations at government-run hospitals and added that states may choose to give it for free to those above the age of 18.
The Central government on Monday announced that the vaccination for those above 18 years will begin across the country from 1 May as part of the third phase of the inoculation drive.
From 1 May, the present system of private COVID-19 vaccination centres receiving doses from the government and charging up to Rs 250 per dose will cease to exist and private hospitals will procure directly from vaccine manufacturers.
According to the Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy, COVID-19 vaccination will continue to be free for eligible population groups comprising healthcare workers, frontline workers and people above 45 years of age in government vaccination centres, which receive doses from the government of India.
Vaccine manufacturers would make an advance declaration of the price for 50 percent supply that would be available to state governments in the open market before 1 May.
Based on this price, states, private hospitals, industrial establishments may procure vaccine doses from manufacturers.
Private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of COVID-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50 percent supply earmarked for other than the government of India channel.
"While the Centre has liberalised the vaccination policy, it does not mean that vaccines will be sold in pharmacists or chemist shops in the open market," health secretary Rajesh Bhushan had clarified on Wednesday.
The price charged for vaccination by private hospitals would be monitored, he said.
"The present dispensation where private COVID vaccination centres receive doses from the government and can charge up to Rs 250 per dose will cease to exist," the Union health ministry said.
Vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 percent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the government of India and would be free to supply the remaining 50 percent doses to state governments and in the open market.
For government of India vaccination centres, the eligible population would be the same, which exists today, that is healthcare workers (HCWs), frontline workers (FLWs) and population above 45 years of age.
For other than the government of India channel, the eligibility would be all adult citizens of the country, the document said.
Vaccination against COVID-19 will continue to be free for eligible population groups in all those government COVID vaccination centres which receive vaccine doses from the Central government.
All vaccination (through government of India vaccination centres and other than the government of India channel) will be part of the National Vaccination Programme, will follow all existing guidelines, will be captured on the CoWIN platform along with the stocks and price per vaccination applicable in all vaccination centres, will comply with Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) management and reporting, digital vaccination certificate and all other prescribed norms.
The division of vaccine supply, which would mean 50 percent to the government of India and 50 percent to other than the Government of India channel would be applicable uniformly across for all vaccines manufactured in the country.
However, the fully ready to use imported vaccine would be allowed to be utilised entirely in the other than government of India channel, it said.
The Centre from its share will allocate vaccines to states and union territories based on the criteria of performance (speed of administration, average consumption), extent of infections (number of active COVID-19 cases), the document stated.
Second dose of all existing priority groups i.e. HCWs, FLWs and people aged above 45, wherever it has become due, would be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders.
This policy would come into effect from 1 May and would be reviewed from time-to-time.
With inputs from PTI