In a First, All Teachers, Journalists, Bankers Cleared For Covid-19 Vaccine in Punjab's Ludhiana

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Ludhiana administration has decided to administer coronavirus vaccine to judges, lawyers, teachers and journalists in Punjab’s city. The decision has also paved the way for workers of banks, NGOs, cooperative societies and food grain societies.

Such an expansion of the vaccination drive to a whole range of categories by Ludhiana administration comes two weeks after the Centre started administering vaccines to all above 60 and those above 45 with illnesses.

People who remained active during the Covid-19 pandemic, including these categories, should be identified as 'frontline workers' and vaccinated forthwith, ThePrint quoted Deputy Commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma as saying.

"'Frontline workers' are a broad category of people… all those who worked during the pandemic are still working and are expected to continue with their work activities in the coming days as well. As district authorities, we have the discretion to assess whom to include in the category of 'frontline workers'," he told ThePrint.

India started its vaccination drive in January with an aim of inoculating 3 crore frontline workers. So far, 3.17 crore people have received the shots.

This decision by the Ludhiana administration also comes on a day when the Centre told the Supreme Court that it may not be desirable to create a separate class of judges, lawyers and court staff below the age of 45 for administering the Covid-19 vaccine on a priority basis. It said the vaccine, which is already being produced beyond the manpower and infrastructural capacity, is also being exported in view of the global pandemic.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said that it would consider the plea, seeking inclusion of judges, judicial staff and lawyers in the priority category for the Covid-19 vaccine, on March 18. During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the government reply has been filed. Senior advocates Harish Salve, appearing for Serum Institute of India, and Mukul Rohatgi, representing Bharat Biotech, said that different High Courts are seeking data as to how many vaccines are being produced and when will it be given to all. Rohatgi said this was a very important matter and they have filed a petition seeking transfer of all cases before the High Courts to the top court.

The bench then said it will take up the transfer petition along with the PIL seeking fixing of priority of judges, lawyers and court staff for Covid-19 vaccine on March 18.