Covid-19: Maharashtra halts vaccination for 18-44 age group, cites ‘shortage of doses’
Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope announced on Wednesday that the state’s vaccination drive against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for those in the age group of 18-44 was being put on hold due to a “shortage of doses.”
“We’re suspending the vaccination drive for the age group of 18-44 for the time being owing to the shortage of the vaccines,” Tope told the media after a meeting of the state cabinet. “Serum Institute of India (SII) chief Adar Poonawalla has promised chief minister Uddhav Thackeray delivery of 1.5 crore doses of Covishield to Maharashtra after May 20. We will start the vaccination for the 18-44 age group after we receive the vaccine,” Tope further said.
He added that Covishield doses meant for the 18-44 age group will be diverted for the second dose for those above 45 years of age. On Tuesday, the Maharashtra government decided to divert 310,000 doses of the Covaxin anti-Covid-19 vaccine to those aged above 45 for the same purpose.
Covishield and Covaxin are the two vaccines which are being administered in India currently. While the former is actually a shot developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford University and is being manufactured as “Covishield” in India by the Pune-based SII, the latter has been developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited.
Maharashtra, which has the highest Covid-19 caseload among all states and Union territories, has frequently complained of vaccine shortage, a charge that has been repeatedly rebutted by the Central government. However, several other states, too, have complained of a shortage of doses.
Starting May 1, everyone above the age of 18 became eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine jab. The decision to this effect was taken in a review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 19 amid an alarming rise in the country’s daily Covid-19 cases. According to the Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) data on Wednesday morning, 175,235,991 vaccine doses have been administered since the nationwide inoculation drive commenced on January 16. Till May 11, the number of doses administered in Maharashtra stood at 18,821,485, as per a state health department bulletin.