(Eds: With updates) Ahmedabad, Apr 29 (PTI) Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Thursday made it clear that the COVID-19 vaccination drive for the 18-45 age group in the state will start latest by May 15 instead of the first day of the next month.
Earlier in the day, the state government said that the process to vaccinate people of this age group will begin once it gets substantial number of vaccines from pharmaceutical companies, which had triggered speculation whether the state would miss the May 1 launch date of the inoculation drive for this category.
The registration process for the vaccination of people from this category has begun in the state. However, the pharma companies to which the state government has given orders for vaccine doses are yet to deliver them.
The Centre had announced that those in 18-45 age group can get vaccines from May 1.
'Vaccination for 18-45 age group will begin once we get substantial doses of vaccines from the pharma companies, which is likely to happen soon. Latest by May 15, the drive will start as we expect to get vaccine doses any time before that date,' Rupani said in his social media address to thestate for the fourth phase of the inoculation drive.
He appealed to the youths to get themselves registered for the drive and said that getting vaccinated was a very important step in the fight against the pandemic.
'Earlier, we had ordered 1.5 crore doses of vaccine, but now we have increased it to 2.5 crore doses. We have placed orders of two crore doses of Covishield vaccines from Serum Institute of India and 50 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech,' he added.
'Gujarat has been one of the leading states in the first phase of vaccination for health workers, in the second phase for frontline workers and in the third phase for those above 45 years of age. We have so far given 1.20 crore doses of vaccine to our population,' the chief minister said.
In the fourth phase also, the state intends to lead the country and vaccinate maximum number of people, he said.
'Once we get the required stock to launch the drive, it will go on uninterruptedly,' Rupani added.
He further said that third vaccine Sputnik-V is also coming to India soon, which will boost the supply.
'We are going to provide free vaccines to all above 18 years of age from government-run facilities and preparations for it have been completed,' he said.
On Sunday, the state government had announced that starting May 1, it would provide free of cost COVID-19 vaccines to those between 18 and 45 years of age.
In a statement issued earlier in the day, the state health department said, 'The process of registration for the age group of 18 to 45 has begun on CoWIN portal from Wednesday as per the announcement of the central government.
'For this phase, the state-run and private hospitals have to directly procure vaccines from pharma companies,' it said.
It had said that the vaccination drive for those above 45 years will continue as before.
For those above 45 years of age, the Centre is procuring vaccines from pharma companies and providing them to states.
On Wednesday, the Maharashtra government had said that it would not be able to launch the 18-45 age group vaccination drive from May 1 due to the shortage of vaccines. PTI PD NP NP