Second Covid vaccine dose: Maharashtra govt’s first priority
A day after announcing the suspension of the Covid-19 vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group, Maharashtra inoculated 338,400 people above 45 years on Thursday, as it prioritised administering the second doses for beneficiaries. Amid the delay in supply of doses by the Centre and manufacturers, not only has the inoculation of younger citizens been halted, but it has slowed down for those above 45 years. Of the 338,400 people inoculated on Thursday, 210,040 got their second dose, while 128,360 were given their first shot.
The state government on Wednesday suspended the drive for the 18-44 age group, so as to divert the jab to the second doses for those above 45. The state government diverted the vaccines it purchased for the 18-44 age group due to the shortage of vaccines supplied by the Centre for beneficiaries above 45 years.
Health minister Rajesh Tope said on Thursday the state has requested the Centre for more vaccines. “We have more than 2 million people due for their second doses. We have diverted around 1 million doses, including 300,000 procured by the state for 18-44 years category, to enable the second dose within the stipulated time. We expect the Centre to supply the additional stock of 1 million doses to make up for the diversion and also supply additional 1 million to ensure inoculation of people waiting for their second shot,” he said. He said the state was not complaining about the short supply by the Centre as they are aware about non-availability of vaccines. “But we expect better management of the jabs by the centre by monitoring the due period of the beneficiaries. The responsibility of providing adequate stock of the vaccine for second doses of 45-plus beneficiaries lies with the Centre. We do not want to politicise the issue, but putting facts in the public domain is necessary,” he said.
The health minister said that not only Maharashtra, but even Karnataka, too, was compelled to suspend the third phase drive (18-44 years age group).
Though the state government has decided to give priority to the second dose for those above 45 years, many districts administered first doses to the people in the category. “Maharashtra is expected to receive another stock of more than 500,000 doses in a day or two, till which we have stock that can last for two more days. As the Centre has now extended the period of second dose of Covishield to 12-16 weeks from 6-8 weeks, we expect demand for the second jab to reduce a bit,” said an official from the health department. Dr DN Patil, state immunisation officer, said, “About 80% of the doses were used for the second doses for 45+ citizens today. In the next two days, we will further reduce the percentage of inoculation for first dose. Once we get the stock, we can think of resumption of inoculation for the 18-44 age group.”