While those in the 18-44 age group in India will be able to register for COVID-19 vaccination from 4 pm on April 28 as the exercise for the younger population is supposed to open from May 1, getting an appointment for the same could take a while with many states saying Serum Institute of India (SII) has promised them supplies only after May 15.
The Centre has further made it clear to all states that they can vaccinate the 18-44 age group only out of the quota that the states procure themselves and not out of the quota of vaccines that the Centre will be providing them. The central quota, which is 50 percent of the manufactured vaccines that are further allocated to the states, must only be used for continuing vaccination of the 45-plus age group and frontline workers, the Centre’s letter sent on April 26 says.
This implies that those in the 18-44 age group should be a bit patient for getting a slot for the vaccine shot, depending on when their state or UT procures supplies from SII or Bharat Biotech.
“I would like to reiterate that the Government of India’s supply of vaccines will not be used for persons beyond the existing priority groups i.e. health care workers, frontline workers and persons aged 45 years and above. Vaccination of any person aged between 18 and 44 years has to be done through the vaccine supplies procured by ‘Other than Government of India Channel’ i.e. State/UT governments, private hospitals and hospitals of industrial establishments. I request you to kindly communicate the above-mentioned directive to the officials concerned so that uninterrupted vaccine supply can be ensured for the prioritised groups,” Union Health Ministry’s Additional Secretary Manohar Aghani has written to Additional Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries (Health) of all the states on April 26.
This is also one reason why prior registration on COWIN App has been made mandatory for an appointment for the 18-44 age group and walk-ins have been disallowed for now. This is to avoid crowding at the vaccination centres and any possible law and order situation in case the younger population landing up at the centres are denied the vaccine citing lack of availability of state-procured vaccine stocks.
“The idea is that people in the 18-44 age group would not come to the vaccination centre as long as they do not get a confirmed appointment. Walk-ins will be allowed as earlier for the 45-plus age group as enough vaccine stocks are available from the central government pool with the states,” a senior official said.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on April 27 said the state may receive its supply of Covishield vaccine only after May 20, as per a communique it had got from SII. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has said SII has told them the supplies can come only after May 15 and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has also said the same. Other states such as Delhi and Uttar Pradesh have said they have placed orders for nearly one crore vaccines from the two suppliers but have not specified a date by which they would get the vaccine.
“The new liberalised policy was only announced on April 19 by the Centre and the orders were placed by many states a few days later after factoring in the finances and the rates itself were declared by the two suppliers only a few days ago. The general consensus is that it will take at least three more weeks for the supplies to start coming in as the time given was too short,” a Delhi government official told News18.