Ahmedabad (Gujarat): As the centralised free vaccination policy began on Monday under which the Government of India will provide free COVID-19 vaccine to all citizens above 18 years of age, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Centre has made all arrangements to speed up the vaccination process in July and August.
Stating that it is important to receive both doses of vaccine, Shah urged all the citizens to come forward to get vaccinated to protect themselves from the disease.
Speaking to reporters during his visit to the COVID care centre at Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Centre here today, Shah said, "Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a new chapter is starting from today in the battle against COVID-19, across the country. The PM had made an important decision that from June 21 people who are 18 years of age and above will be vaccinated free of cost by the Cental Government and the process of vaccination will be sped up."
"In a densely populated country like India, vaccinating all above 18 years of age free of cost is a big decision in itself and it has started on the occasion of Yoga Day. I am hopeful that this will not only help all the citizens but succeed in fighting this battle against COVID-19," said the Union Home Minister.
He further said, "Among all the vaccination drives going on around the world, India was already ranked at the top in vaccination per 10 lakh people. And now, we will nearly reach our aim of vaccinating all the citizens. The Government of India has made arrangements to speed up the process of vaccination in the months of July and August."
"I believe that the Government of India's decision of shielding every citizen against COVID-19 will bring relief to every citizen. I urge all the citizens of the country to get vaccinated," said Shah.
He added, "Those who have already received the first dose of the vaccine and as per government guidelines their time duration between the two doses is over, they should also get their second dose. Only after receiving two doses, we will get complete protection against the virus."
Meanwhile, Shah also inaugurated the Vaishno Devi bridge and Gandhinagar Khodiyar bridge. He was accompanied by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made the announcement in a televised address to the nation and said the central government would take over the nationwide vaccination drive, and the Centre would procure 75 per cent of vaccines and give them to states for free distribution to all citizens above the age of 18.
The Centre will also handle the 25 per cent vaccination that was with states till now under the liberalised plan announced earlier.
In a briefing on Friday, the health ministry had said states would be playing a facilitatory role by aggregating demand and vaccination capabilities of private hospitals in the state and ensure the administrations of vaccinations.
"There will be a systematic flow of vaccines to the private sector as well. I am hopeful that in this way, there will be a lot of energy in the participation of the private sector and vaccination sites will increase," Dr VK Paul, Member, Health of the Niti Aayog said.
From June 21 (International Day of Yoga), the Centre will provide free vaccines to states," PM Modi said.
"Whether it is the poor, the lower middle class, the middle class, or the upper-middle class, under the central government programme, everyone will get free vaccines," the Prime Minister said.
"Private hospitals will continue to buy the remaining 25 per cent and inoculate those willing to pay for their jabs. They can't, however, charge more than Rs 150 as a service charge per dose over the fixed price of the vaccine, the PM had said.
The health minister had stated that the maximum price that can be charged per dose by private vaccine centres for the three vaccines currently available in the country - Rs 780 for Covishield, Rs 1,410 for Covaxin and Rs 1,145 for Sputnik V.
Before the Centre's takeover, it was the responsibility of state governments to procure and administer 50 per cent of the vaccines for citizens between the ages of 18 to 45. The Centre supplied free of cost vaccines to people aged 45 and above.
Chief Ministers of several states had urged the Centre to procure vaccines after manufacturers denied to supply directly. The shortage forced many vaccination centres across the country to shut down.
As per the union health ministry, as many as 27,66,93,572 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the country so far, including 38,10,554 on Sunday.As many as 5,42,21,110 citizens in the 18-44 age group and 14,42,38,142 0ver the age of 45 have received their first dose.
70,65,889 healthcare workers, 90,32,813 frontline workers, 12,27,088 between the age of 18-44, and 3,36,80,696 over the aged 45 and above are fully vaccinated.
As per a statement on Sunday, more than 29.10 crore (29,10,54,050) vaccine doses have been provided to States and union territories so far by the Centre through the Government of India (free of cost channel) and through direct state procurement.
More than 3.06 crore (3,06,34,638) COVID Vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs to be administered, the statement said.