'Today's record-breaking vaccination numbers gladdening': PM Modi as over 85 lakh get Covid jabs

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: India vaccinated over 85.15 lakh people against coronavirus on Monday as the Centre took charge of providing free jabs to all adults in government hospitals across the country and walk-ins were permitted for all eligible beneficiaries.

Covid vaccinations were carried out at more than 67000 vaccination centres and sources said that over half of these were in rural areas. It allowed a large number of people to access the vaccines as the requirement of pre registration for 18-44 age group was done away with. 

India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage was recorded at over 28.36 crore since January 16, according to the data from the CoWIN portal.

This record-breaking jump in single day vaccination marks an increase of over 62% from the average daily vaccinations of 31 lakh achieved this month till Sunday.

The previous single-day record was of over 48 lakh doses on April 1.

In June so far, India saw an average vaccination of over 31 lakh per day.

The average single-day vaccinations fell to as low as around 16 lakh in the first week of May when the country was at the peak of the second wave.

Starting Monday, the Union government is responsible for procuring and supplying 75% of the Covid vaccine available in the country which will then be distributed to the states for free.

Madhya Pradesh saw the maximum vaccinations on Monday followed by Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

Earlier in the day, Modi said that the central government is beginning the ‘Free Vaccination For All campaign’ for every Indian from today.

“The biggest beneficiary of this phase of India’s vaccination drive shall be the poor, the middle class and the youth of the country. All of us should pledge to get ourselves vaccinated. Together we will defeat COVID-19,” he said.

Private hospitals on the other hand will continue to procure 25% Covid vaccines and charge people opting for vaccinations at these centres.

“Today’s record-breaking vaccination numbers are gladdening. The vaccine remains our strongest weapon to fight Covid-19. Congratulations to those who got vaccinated and kudos to all the front-line warriors working hard to ensure so many citizens got the vaccine. Well done India!” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The vaccination drive has been ramped up through the availability of more vaccines, advance visibility of vaccine availability to states for enabling better planning by them, and streamlining the vaccine supply chain, the government said.

States were provided advance visibility of the vaccine doses available to them in the month of June and this advance information enabled the states to prepare vaccine distribution plans district-wise and vaccination centre wise in an effective manner, it claimed.

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The present phase of vaccination was announced by the Prime Minister on June 7.

“Today’s achievement showcases the trust placed by the people of India in the Government in its fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic,” the health ministry said in a statement.

The Union Government is committed to accelerating the pace and expanding scope of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive.

The vaccination drive has been ramped up through the availability of more vaccines, advance visibility of vaccine availability to states and UTs for enabling better planning by them, and streamlining the vaccine supply chain, the ministry said.

During May 2021, more than 7.9 crore vaccines were available for the nationwide COVID19 vaccination exercise.

These were ramped up to 11.78 crore in June.

These include the free supply of vaccines to states and UTs from the Government of India, those directly procured by the states and UTs and those directly procured by the private hospitals, the ministry said.

States were provided advance visibility of the vaccine doses available to them in June by the Union Ministry of Health.

“This advance information enabled the states to prepare vaccine distribution plans district-wise and COVID-19 Vaccination Centre (CVC) wise in an effective manner.

This facilitated a massive ramping up of the vaccine administration across the country,” the ministry said.

“This facilitated a massive ramping up of the vaccine administration across the country,” said the Union health ministry.

A dashboard maintained by the Union government on Covid vaccination showed that government vaccination centres increased by over 20,000 on Monday while the private vaccination centres remained at around 2,000.

As of Monday, there were 67,839 government hospitals offering Covid vaccinations.

A look at the dashboard also showed that Madhya Pradesh led the total vaccinations with nearly 15.5 lakh inoculations in a single day, and was followed by Karnataka where about 11 lakh beneficiaries received the jabs.

Officials in the ministry, meanwhile, said that plans had afoot to ensure a high vaccination of day one of the new vaccination policy regimes by procuring higher doses of vaccines and supplying them to states.

There were no answers, however, offered on whether this momentum can be maintained in the coming days even though the authorities have earlier indicated that India plans to vaccinate 1 crore people every day in the days to come.

The Covid vaccination programme in the country so far has been marred with low vaccine availability and only about 5% of the adult population in India is fully vaccinated.

Samiran Panda, chief epidemiologist and a member of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of Covid meanwhile said that the high number of jabs administered on Monday was a result of multiple factors.

“Apart from smoother coordination between the Centre and states on vaccine procurement the right messaging on ending vaccine hesitancy has also led to a large number of people coming forward to take the shots,” he told The New Indian Express.

According to the revised guidelines which came into effect from Monday, vaccine doses provided free of cost by the Centre will be allocated to states and UTs based on criteria such as population, disease burden and the progress of vaccination, and all above the age of 18 will be eligible for the free jabs.

Any wastage of vaccine will affect the allocation negatively, they said.

The Centre will now procure 75 percent of the vaccines being produced by the manufacturers in the country.

It had earlier allowed states and private hospitals to procure 50 percent of the vaccines following demands for decentralisation of the process.

However, after several states complained of problems including funding, Prime Minister Modi announced the revision of the vaccine guidelines.

In order to incentivise production by vaccine manufacturers and encourage new vaccines, domestic vaccine manufacturers are given the option to also provide vaccines directly to private hospitals.

This would be restricted to 25 percent of their monthly production, the new guidelines stated.

Within the population group of citizens more than 18 years of age, states and UTs may decide their own prioritisation factoring in the vaccine supply schedule, the revised guidelines issued by the health ministry stated.

The states and UTs would aggregate the demand of private hospitals keeping in view equitable distribution between large and small private hospitals and regional balance, they said.

“Based on this aggregated demand, the Government of India will facilitate the supply of these vaccines to the private hospitals and their payment through the National Health Authority’s electronic platform. This would enable the smaller and remoter private hospitals to obtain a timely supply of vaccines, and further equitable access and regional balance,” the ministry said.

The price of vaccine doses for private hospitals would be declared by each vaccine manufacturer, and any subsequent changes would be notified in advance.

The private hospitals may charge up to a maximum of Rs150 per dose as service charges.

State Governments may monitor the price being so charged, the guidelines said.

All citizens irrespective of their income status are entitled to free vaccination.

Those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use private hospital’s vaccination centres, the guidelines said.

“To promote the spirit of ‘Lok Kalyan’ (public good), use of non-transferable Electronic Vouchers, which can be redeemed at private vaccination centers, will be encouraged.

“This would enable people to financially support vaccination of Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) at private vaccination centres,” the revised guidelines said.

The COVID vaccination in the country commenced with the vaccination for all healthcare workers from January 16.

The programme was expanded with time to include vaccination of frontline workers, citizens more than 60 years of age, citizens more than 45 years of age and eventually citizens more than 18 years of age.

Under the National COVID Vaccination Program, from January 16 to April 30, 100 percent of vaccine doses were procured by the Government of India and provided free of cost to state governments.

State Governments were, in turn, asked to administer vaccination free of cost to defined priority groups.

To increase the pace of vaccination, participation of private hospitals was also enlisted where individuals could also choose to get vaccinated at a prescribed rate, the ministry said.

In response to the suggestions of many state governments to be permitted the flexibility to procure vaccine directly and administer them as per their own prioritisation based on local requirements.

From May 1, the Centre was procuring 50 percent of the vaccine produced and was continuing to provide them to states free of cost for administering to priority groups.

The state government and private hospitals were also empowered to directly procure from the remaining 50 percent vaccine pool.

“Many states have, however, had communicated that they are facing difficulties in managing the funding, procurement and logistics of vaccines, impacting the pace of the National COVID Vaccination Program.

“Also it was noted that smaller and remoter private hospitals were also facing constraints.”

“Keeping in view these aspects and the repeated requests received from states, the Guidelines for National COVID Vaccination Program were reviewed and revised and new guidelines were issued on June 8,” the ministry said.

(With PTI Inputs)