By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved the launch of Covid-19 vaccination for the third priority group from March 1 which include people above 60 years and those above 45 years with comorbidities.
The vaccines will be administered at 10,000 government facilities free of cost and also be offered at 20,000 private facilities where they will be chargeable.
The cost of the vaccines at private hospitals, however, will only be decided in 3-4 days after meeting with manufacturers and representatives of hospitals, said Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar.
“From March 1, people above 60 and those above 45 with comorbidities will be vaccinated at 10,000 governments and over 20,000 private vaccination centres. The vaccine will be given free of cost at government centres,” said Javadekar in a press briefing on Cabinet decisions.
The two categories of people being prioritised for the vaccines now are part of the third target group — after healthcare and frontline workers — of the population above 50 years, identified as vulnerable to severe Covid-19.
The government is yet to make public the clinical criteria for those with underlying conditions to qualify for vaccinations against coronavirus but sources in the Union Health Ministry said that these include diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases.
The underlying conditions have been defined by a special panel of doctors appointed by the government for the purpose and are likely to be released within the next few days.
Officials also said that portability facilities will be offered for the vaccination which means that the beneficiaries can get the jabs anywhere in India after registering on CoWin app and furnishing required documents at the time of vaccine administration.
“At the time of registration on CoWin, beneficiaries will be allotted a slot and will have a choice of hospitals to choose from. For this purpose, the app is being updated,” said a senior ministry official. He added that there is also a process underway to integrate CoWin portal with the Aarogya Setu app which will allow easy registration for beneficiaries.
There are two approved Covid-19 vaccines in India, one each by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. However, the government is yet to clarify whether there will be a choice of vaccines for the third priority group.