Healthcare Workers No Longer Eligible to Register For Vaccine, Says Govt to Widen Scope of Drive

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The Centre on Saturday directed the states and UTs that no fresh registrations of healthcare and frontline workers will be allowed as some ineligible beneficiaries in this category were getting their names enlisted for vaccination against COVID-19 in violation of rules. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter, said registration of persons aged 45 years and above will continue to be permitted on Co-WIN portal, and asked the states/UTs to ensure universal vaccination of already registered healthcare workers (HCWs) and frontline workers (FLWs) at the earliest.

The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with HCWs getting inoculated and the vaccination of FLWs started from February 2. The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from March 1 for those over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.

In the letter, Bhushan said all efforts have been made in close collaboration with states and UTs to saturate vaccination of HCWs and FLWs. While tracking the progress, timeline for completing vaccination of all HCWs and FLWs with first dose of COVID-19 vaccine has been extended multiple times and was finally fixed at February 25 for HCWs and March 6 for FLWs, he stated.

Around one month has elapsed since these timelines and even after starting the vaccination of the population above 60 years, provision was made to register and vaccinate HCWs and FLWs with a view to ensure optimal coverage, he underlined. "Various inputs have been received from different sources that in some of the COVID-19 vaccination centres (CVCs), some ineligible beneficiaries are being registered as HCWs and FLWs and are getting vaccinated in complete violation of the prescribed guidelines," Bhushan said.

There has been 24 per cent increase in HCWs database in the past few days. "This issue was discussed with state representatives and domain knowledge experts in the NEGVAC meeting today, and as per the recommendation of National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), it has been decided that no fresh registrations in categories of HCWs and FLWs will be allowed with immediate effect. Registrations of persons aged 45 years and above will continue to be permitted on CoWIN portal," he said in the letter.

"I request you to kindly direct the officials concerned for wider dissemination of this policy decision for compliance. However, universal vaccination of already registered HCWs and FLWs should be ensured at the earliest," he added.