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India starts free COVID vaccination for all above 18 but glitches remain

India starts free COVID vaccination for all above 18 but glitches remain

dpa
New Delhi
Several Indian states opened mass vaccination sites on Monday at school grounds, auditoriums and other facilities, as the government’s free Covid-19 inoculation drive expanded to anyone over the age of 18.
India unrolled its vaccination programme in January but is way behind the target it set for itself of fully inoculating at least 300 million people by mid-2021.
So far less than 5 percent of India’s 1.3-billion population have been fully vaccinated and 280 million have received at least one dose of the two vaccines that were approved for emergency use in January.
The government’s new policy announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month replaces a complex system introduced in May in which the federal and state governments and the private sector bought vaccines at different prices and distributed them to different age groups.
The government will now be acquiring 75 percent of all vaccines to be distributed while 25 percent would be procured by private entities at a capped price. But several states, specially those governed by parties other than Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are complaining of constricted supplies of the free vaccines.
“We have been told only 1.5 million doses have been allotted to Delhi in July ... this is totally inadequate,” the state’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia told reporters. “You say this is the world’s biggest vaccine programme, its certainly becoming the world’s longest,” Sisodia said.
Government health officials have said supplies are expected to improve from July and August.
The country is also struggling with vaccine hesitancy in rural areas, specially tribal belts.
“People should be protected from those who are spreading rumours and fake information against coronavirus vaccines, it harms the poor people the most,” federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Monday.
India has the second-largest caseload of Covid-19 in the world at around 29.93 million and has reported 388,135 deaths.

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