Odisha to make symbolic start of vaccination drive for 18+ on May 1

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(Eds: Updating with fresh inputs) Bhubaneswar, Apr 30 (PTI) The Odisha government on Friday night said that it will symbolically start the COVID-19 inoculation drive for the people in the age group of 18 to 44 years on May 1 only in Bhubaneswar as it is the first day of the weekend urban area lockdown across the state.

Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, P K Mohapatra, had said earlier in the day that the third phase of vaccination will not start in Odisha from May 1 due to lack of stock and the shutdown.

'Tomorrow, on 1st May, the State will have a trial, symbolic commencement of 18-44 years age group vaccination, with vaccination of a token few beneficiaries, in view of the urban area lockdown,' the Health and Family Welfare department tweeted.

The state's decision of not starting the inoculation drive changed after it received 1.5 lakh doses of Covaxin at 9 pm, as the first consignment of the states own procurement for the third phase of vaccination.

'The vaccine will be used in Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) area for which slots will be opened on COWIN portal for sessions to be held from Monday onwards,' a senior official said.

Residents of the BMC region only get Covaxin while people in the 30 districts of the state are administered Covishield.

Odisha requires about 10.34 lakh Covaxin doses to inoculate about 5 lakh eligible people living in the BMC area, while the requirement of Covishield is 3.77 crore doses, Mohapatra said.

'We do not have the required vaccine stock to roll out the third phase of inoculation on Saturday. This apart, May 1 and May 2 are two days of the weekend shutdown. Therefore, the state cannot start the third phase either on May 1 or May 2,' the additional chief secretary said earlier.

There are an estimated 1.93 crore people in the 18-44 years age bracket in the state.

'We have written letters and are in constant touch with vaccine manufacturing companies. They assured us to supply vaccines, but did not give any specific date when the vaccine consignment will reach the state,' Mohapatra said.

As soon as vaccines are available, the state will start the third phase of the inoculation any day after May 3, he said and asked the beneficiaries to continue registering their names in the official portals for the vaccination.

Mohapatra said that the state has the capacity to vaccinate three to four lakh people a day.

'We have already given Rs 700 crore to the Odisha State Medical Corporation Limited for procurement of the vaccines,' he added.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik earlier announced that the people in the age group of 18-44 years, who constitute 43 per cent of the state's population, will get the vaccine for free.

On the people who are above 45 years, Mohapatra said that immediately after arrival of the vaccines, priority will be given to those who are waiting for the second dose which needs to be given within a stipulated period.

He said that inoculation could not be held in five districts on Friday due to shortage of vaccines.

Mohapatra also appealed to people not to panic over getting a hospital bed immediately after testing COVID-19 positive. 'Hospital beds should be kept vacant for critical patients. All COVID-19 positive persons do not need hospitalisation.' The state government has made arrangements to monitor the health condition of all people in home isolation and they can be shifted to nearby hospitals in case of an emergency.

Dedicated ambulances and rapid response teams are ready to help patients requiring hospitalisation, he said.

There is no shortage of beds or oxygen in Odisha, Mahapatra said. PTI AAM NN NN