J'khand blames Centre authorised bodies for not making shots available;puts off 18+ vaccine roll out for now

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(Eds: Adding details) Ranchi, May 1 (PTI) Blaming organisations authorised by the Centre for not making available vaccines, Jharkhand on Saturday put off the 18 plus anti-COVID jab for now and said it will announce the fresh dates for vaccination once it is available.

The inoculation drive for the people in the age-group of 18-44 years remained a non-starter in the state amid non- supplies of vaccines.

Jharkhand is also badly hit by the second wave of the deadly virus.

The state has so far recorded 2,670 COVID related fatalities, besides there are over 57,000 active cases as on May 1, 2021.

'The vaccination drive for 18-44 age group is being postponed on account of organisations authorised by the Government of India not making available COVID-19 vaccines.

'The announcement for the drive will be made once the vaccines are available,' the chief minister's office said in a statement.

Earlier, chief minister Hemant Soren told PTI that he has sought centre's intervention for facilitating procurement of at least 50 lakh vaccine doses.

The state had placed demand for 50 lakh vaccine doses in advance to launch the vaccination campaign for 1.57 crore population in the 18-44 age-bracket under the Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of COVID-19 vaccination for which registration had commenced since April 28.

'There are issues concerning supplies and we have written to the central government for facilitating procurement of at least 50 lakh doses,' Soren told PTI.

The CM said that the state was fully geared up to start the vaccination campaign as soon as it received the lot.

'We hope to start vaccination for 18-44 once we start receiving the doses from both the manufacturers,' he said.

Soren has already announced free vaccination for people in the younger age group.

The state had placed orders with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India for 25 lakh doses of Covishield and with the Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech for another 25 lakh doses of Covaxin to launch the drive.

Health Minister Banna Gupta told PTI, 'We have placed an order for 50 lakh vaccine doses. They are saying that it will be supplied between May 15 to May 30.

'We are fully equipped to start the vaccination drive for the age group of 18-44. If you give us vaccines today we will start the campaign from tomorrow.' Gupta said the state has made arrangements for inoculation of about 4.5 lakh people in a day.

The minister said that 1.57 crore population in the state fell in the age group of 18-44 years, while the population of those above 45 years including frontline health workers was 83 lakh.

Asked about the people vaccinated in the state so far, the minister said the first dose of vaccine has been administered to about 25 lakh people above the age of 45 years including health workers while the second shots have been given to about 4 lakh people.

Chief Minister Soren, who himself recently took the first jab of the vaccine, urged people especially the elderly to come forward to take the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the central government vide a letter has asked the state to directly procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers.

'As you appreciate that the next phase of vaccination starting from May 1, 2021, the government of India has liberalised the process and provided more flexibility and control to the states. The states can now directly procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers.

'We urge the state to plan vaccination drives according to the availability of doses and also to ensure that citizens are informed well in advance,' Vikas Sheel, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare wrote to the state government.

The letter mentions that 3.87 lakh doses of vaccine are likely to be available to the state in May.

'...Based on discussions with the manufacturers of vaccines for facilitating a smooth roll out of the next phase of expanded vaccination programme in your state, 3,87,560 number of Covishield vaccine doses of Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune are likely to be available for your state, under the other than Government of India channel in the month of May 2021', the letter mentioned.

It also said that the state may take necessary action to obtain supplies for commencing vaccination from May 1, 2021 as per policy guidelines issued by the Ministry.

The Union Health Ministry on Saturday said over 79 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses are available with the states and Union territories and over 17 lakh doses will be supplied to them in the next three days.

As per the government data, centre has so far provided nearly 16.37 crore vaccine doses to states/UTs free of cost.

Of this, the total consumption, including wastages, is 15,58,48,782 doses, according to official data available till Saturday morning. PTI NAM SNS SNS