Patnaik announces free inoculation for 18-plus too;Odisha places order for 387.34 lakh vaccine doses

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(Eds: adding detail) Bhubaneswar, Apr 25 (PTI) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday announced free COVID vaccination for all above the age of 18, days before the nationwide drive to inoculate a vast population is launched.

Immediately after Patnaiks announcement, the state government placed order for 387.34 doses of vaccines for the purpose.

The state requisitioned 377 lakh Covishield vaccine doses and 10.34 lakh doses of Covaxin, official sources said.

Odisha joins league of states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Kerala, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Arunachal Pradesh among others which have already declared vaccination for everybody above 18 years of age from May 1 free of cost.

Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, P K Mohapatra has already placed order to the vaccine manufacturing companies.

While the people in the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation jurisdiction are prsently getting covaxin, the residents in rest of the state are administered covishield jabs.

Mohapatra said the same would continue for the 18-plus population too.

In a video message to the people of Odisha, the chief minister said the government has targeted to spend Rs 2,000 crore towards vaccination of 2 crore people in the state.

'The people will not have to spend anything towards vaccination,' Patnaik said.

The eastern state is providing free of cost vaccination presently to 45-plus citizens.

The state has so far inoculated 55,50,380 people comprising health care workers, frontline workers, senior citizens and people at the age of 45 and above.

Noting that the state government does not want imposition of restrictions like lockdown, shutdowns and others as they impact the economy and livelihood of the people, Patnaik appealed to the people to cooperate with the administration by adhering to the COVID-19 protocol so that such a situation could be avoided.

He pointed out that the entire world has been experiencing a war-like situation and India has been recording the highest number of COVID cases in the last few days, Patnaik said the corona situation in different places are deteriorating.

The situation in Odidshas bordering districts are also alarming, he said.

'There is shortage of oxygen and beds at hospitals. Even crematoriums are also lacking space. The people who die in the pandemic are brothers, sisters, mothers and any relative of anyone. The situation is precarious as well as grave,' he said.

Noting that the entire country is passing through a very difficult situation, Patnaik said he has spoken to the Chief Ministers of other states and the Prime Minister and extended support.

Currently Odisha is providing oxygen to six states, the chief minister informed.

These states included Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

Recalling last years situation, Patnaik said the situation could be managed with active cooperation of all.

However, this time round, the condition is very grim.

'I consider all the people of Odisha as my family members.

The state government has been doing all possible to save each life', he stated.

'If we adhere to the COVID protocol and be careful, we can win the coronavirus battle without lockdown.`` 'I request you with folded hands to religiously follow all COVID appropriate protocols. Wear masks, maintain social distancing at all costs. Until very necessary do not go out of the house,' Patnaik said in an emotional tone in the video message to the people of Odisha. PTI AAM SOM SNS SNS