Punjab to get 3.30 lakh doses for 18+ citizens, 70% to be used for those with comorbidities

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Chandigarh, May 3 (PTI) The Punjab government placed an order for 30 lakh doses of vaccine with Serum Institute of India Limited for the 18-44 age group but has been allocated only 3.30 lakh for the month of May, officials said on Monday.

They said 70 per cent of the allocation has been reserved for individuals with comorbidities and the remaining 30 per cent will be for the high-risk category of employees and workers.

The state did not start the vaccination drive for the above 18 category on May 1 due to 'non-availability' of the vaccine. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who chaired a COVID review meeting here, announced that within these groups, district-wise allocation had been made based on population index, mortality and density.

Given the severe supply constraints, it was decided to limit the vaccination for the 18-44 group in this phase to major urban centres.

He expressed concern over the existing shortage of vaccines for those above 45 years of age, according to a statement.

“The state expects 2 lakh doses to arrive on Tuesday for vaccination of 45 plus category. Of the 33,46,500 Covishield doses received so far, 32,91,0450 have already been utilized,” it said.

For the vaccination of 18-44 age group in May, 50 per cent was allocated to Group A districts of SAS Nagar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Bathinda and Patiala.

Another 30 per cent was reserved for Group B districts of Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, SBS Nagar, Faridkot, Kapurthala and Gurdaspur, while the remaining 20 per cent would be used for group C of districts that have lesser number of cases.

The allocation was made proportionate to the population of major urban areas that fall under groups A and B, while for zone C, an equal distribution of doses across was allocated for each district.

These decisions were made in accordance with the vaccine strategy recommended by the state's vaccine expert committee for May, an official spokesperson said after the meeting.

The committee recommended that when further doses are available or as the epidemiologic situation changes, the prioritisation framework may be modified.

Accepting the recommendations of the committee, the CM approved the list of comorbidities to include obesity, disabilities (e.g. spinal cord injury) and multiple comorbidities determined to increase risk by a treating physician, in addition to those specified by the central government.

He pointed out that since individuals with comorbidities were at the highest risk of severe disease and deaths, it was imperative to vaccinate them on priority.

For the remaining 30 per cent, the CM said given the limitation of vaccine availability for this month, the three categories were chosen and they were government employees, construction workers, teachers and other staff at government and private educational establishments, who had more interaction with other individuals.

To boost supplies, the vaccine expert committee recommended that increased doses be sought in partnership with the private sector and other sources, for allocation of available doses in May.

It also suggested that the state government initiated a consultation with national and international vaccine experts to recommend the dosing strategy for Covishield and possibly other vaccines, given the international experience with expanding population coverage and its impact.

Further, the committee recommended development of a plan for evaluation of vaccine effectiveness for prioritized groups, those with comorbidities, and the general population. PTI CHS VSD MGA MGA MGA