23 Mar 2021: All people aged over 45 can be vaccinated from April
The central government will open its nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive to all persons above the age of 45 from April 1, 2021, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar announced on Tuesday.
Earlier, only people above the age of 60, those aged over 45 with co-morbidities, and healthcare and frontline workers were allowed to be vaccinated in India.
Here are more details.
Details: Javadekar urged eligible persons to get vaccinated immediately
Announcing the decisions taken at a Union Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Javadekar said, "After taking recommendations from scientists, it was decided that all people above the age of 45 will be allowed to get the vaccine after April 1...even if they have no co-morbidities."
Javadekar urged all those eligible to immediately get themselves registered and vaccinated.
Vaccination drive: 4.8 crore vaccinated in India so far
India had launched the first phase of its vaccination drive on January 16 with an aim to inoculate three crore health and frontline workers for free.
Starting March 1, the second phase was launched to inoculate those who are above 60 years of age or are above 45 years with co-morbidities.
As of Tuesday morning, 4,84,94,594 people had been vaccinated in India.
Fact: Record 32.45 lakh doses administered in past 24 hours: Javadekar
Over four crore people have been administered one dose of the vaccine, while roughly 80 lakh people have been administered both doses, Javadekar said. "In the past 24 hours, a record 32.45 lakh doses were administered," the Minister added.
Recent news: Recently, Centre raised gap between Covishield doses to 4-8 weeks
Javadekar also mentioned the government's recent decision to increase the gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine from the previously recommended four-six weeks to four-eight weeks.
The decision was taken after it was noted that Covishield—the vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University—exhibited better efficacy with an increased gap between both doses.
Outbreak: 1.16 crore people infected in India so far
According to the Union Health Ministry, as of 8 am on Tuesday, India had reported a total of 1,16,86,796 COVID-19 infections.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1,11,81,253 patients have recovered from COVID-19, and only 3,45,377 infections are active.
The death toll has risen to 1,60,166.
India added 40,715 new cases and 199 fresh fatalities on Tuesday.
Quote: 'Centre in constant touch with regions where infections are rising'
In light of the rising infections in India, Javadekar said, "The central government is in constant touch with regions where cases are increasing. Everyone is familiar with the events of last year. We will manage it effectively and we hope the cases will not increase further."
"We have enough stocks of the vaccine. There is no need to worry about any shortage," he added.