Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, on April 26, announced that all those between 18-45 years of age opting to get their COVID-19 vaccine at government hospitals in the state will get it for free. The announcement was made following a crucial Cabinet meeting, where the decision to impose a lockdown in Bengaluru was announced. The lockdown starting from April 27 night for 14 days was announced in order to arrest the growth of COVID-19 infections.
“In government hospitals vaccination will be free for people between 18-45 years. For those above 45 years, the Union Government will provide vaccination free," the Chief Minister said. In Karnataka, like other states, until now for those above 45 years of age the vaccine was free in government hospitals and Rs 250 per shot in private setups.
The vaccination drive for the age group of 18-45 years will open starting May 1 across the country.
However, the Union government, which until now was procuring COVID-19 vaccines for state governments including private hospitals, has said that state governments have to negotiate with the manufacturers themselves. And, 50% of the vaccines will be procured by the Union government at the earlier agreed price. Meanwhile, the vaccine manufacturing companies — Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India — have also set higher prices for state governments.
Many states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Goa, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar and Sikkim have already announced free vaccinations.
The Karnataka government was also under pressure from the Opposition parties to make vaccines free for all, as the state and rest of the country is bearing the brunt of the second wave of infections.
Two former CMs Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy had urged the BJP, which is power in both state and Centre to make vaccines free for all.