'Expect most ministers to pay for their Covid vaccines': Ravi Shankar Prasad
After Centre's announcement that the second phase of coronavirus vaccine inoculation will begin on March 1, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that he hoped most minister will pay for their jabs.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who was also addressing a press conference on Cabinet decisions along with Prasad, announced that vaccination is going to be free at government clinics but people would need to pay for it at private hospitals.
"People above the age of 60 and those over 45 with comorbidities can get vaccinated at government and private clinics in this phase," Javadekar said. "At government clinics, the jobs would be given for free while private hospitals will charge the patients for it," he added.
"The amount they would need to pay will be decided by the health ministry within 3-4 days as they are in discussion with manufacturers and hospitals," said the minister.
As many as 20,000 private hospitals and 10,000 government centres will be rendering their services in the second round of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. The first round of the drive began on January 16 and healthcare workers including those working in government as well as private facilities, sanitation workers, other frontline workers, defence forces, police and other paramilitary forces are being vaccinated in it. The second phase will also cater to the armed forces.
The announcement comes in the wake of India's Covid infection tally crossing the 11 million-mark. The country's death toll is at 156,567, with 104 fresh fatalities being recorded on Wednesday. As many as 13,742 new infections were added to the overall tally in the latest update on the health ministry website on Wednesday.
Covishield, being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India in association with Oxford-AztraZeneca, and Covaxin, being developed by Bharat Biotech, are being used in the vaccination drive. Other than meeting the needs of the nation, India has also exported vaccines developed indigenously to over 70 nations, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday. "India has pledged its vaccine manufacturing capacity to make vaccines accessible and affordable to all. From Bangladesh to Brazil and from Morocco to Fizi, the pharmacy of the world is supplying millions of vaccine doses to more than 70 countries", he said.