'Health workers who miss scheduled vaccination rounds to be relegated to age-specific batches'

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New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) The Centre on Tuesday said frontline workers who do not get inoculated against COVID-19 in the scheduled or mop-up rounds of the vaccination drive will have to be relegated to the age-specific batches as it advised the states and Union territories to conclude the first-dose administration of all frontline workers by March 6.

Addressing a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said all states and Union territories have been asked to schedule vaccination for all the healthcare workers listed on the CoWIN mobile application by March 1.

'We have further advised the states and Union territories that all frontline workers must be given the opportunity of getting vaccinated in the mop-up rounds by March 6. Those frontline workers who do not get vaccinated in the scheduled vaccination rounds or in the mop-up rounds will have to be relegated to the age-specific vaccination rounds,' he said.

The COVID-19 inoculation process for people aged above 50 is scheduled to start in March.

Speaking about the pandemic situation in the country, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Dr V K Paul said protecting the healthcare system, the frontline workers and also the larger population from not being a candidate for mortality even if they get infected with COVID-19 is the priority.

He also said it might be a few months before vaccines become available through emergency use authorisation.

'The country is fortunate to have two made in India vaccines and as many as six-seven in the pipeline,' Paul said.

'First and foremost, the comprehensive goal is to achieve the public health objective of vaccinating 30 crore people. That is where the vaccine stockpile will be channelled on priority. If the availability is over and above that requirement...we still have to wait for a few months before any of these (other) vaccines becomes available through emergency use authorisation,' he said. PTI UZM PLB RC