No vaccination drive in Maha from May 1; restrictions extended

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(Eds: Updating and adding details) Mumbai, Apr 28 (PTI) The COVID-19 vaccination drive beginning May 1 cannot be launched in Maharashtra because of the unavailabily of sufficient doses of vaccines even as the state on Wednesday extended the current lockdown-like restrictions till May 15 given the rise in the COVID-19 cases.

State Health Minister Rajesh Tope also said the people in the age group of 18 to 44 years will receive free vaccines at state-run centres but citizens will have to pay for the jabs at private facilities.

The free vaccination decision was taken at the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray here. The move will put a burden of Rs 6,500 crore on the state's coffers, Tope said.

'A citizen will be vaccinated for free only at government-run centres. Citizens will have to pay for vaccines at private facilities,' he added.

Tope's remarks on the forthcoming drive wherein people above 18 years will become eligible for immunisation came amid reports that many people in Maharashtra are not getting the doses due to the shortage.

However, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday that the total COVID vaccine doses received by Maharashtra as onApril28 (at 8 am) are 1,58,62,470. Of this, the total consumption, including wastage (0.22 per cent), was 1,53,56,151.

'The balance of 5,06,319 vaccine doses is still available with the state for administration to the eligible population groups,' the ministry said.

It said that 5,00,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine are in the pipeline for delivery in the next three days to Maharashtra.

The demand for the vaccines is on the rise in Maharashtra which is hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

As of April 27, the state's cumulative caseload stood at 44,10,085 while the count of fatalities was 66,179, the state health department had said.

Maharashtra had 6,72,434 active cases as on Tuesday, the officials had said.

On Wednesday, scores of people in many cities in the state, including Mumbai, couldn't get themselves inoculated due to the shortage of vaccines at various facilities.

According to the Maharashtra health department, the state has inoculated a total of 1,53,37,832 people so far, including 25,15,076 in Mumbai alone. PTI ENM NSK NSK