India will begin its next phase of vaccination drive, where the government will provide free COVID-19 vaccines to everyone above 18 years, on June 21. The new COVID vaccination policy is a significant shift from the government’s ‘liberalized and accelerated’ policy, announced earlier.
The policy change was announced on June 7 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a televised address to the nation, he said the central government would provide free coronavirus vaccine to states for inoculation of all adults and asserted that vaccine supply would increase significantly in the country in the coming days.
Before this announcement, a liberalised vaccine policy was in place wherein the Centre procured 50 per cent of the vaccines. In contrast, states and private hospitals procured the rest directly from the manufacturers.
Here’s everything you need to know about the free vaccination drive:
All citizens above the age of 18 can get free vaccination at government facilities from June 21. The Centre will buy 75 per cent of the total vaccine production from manufacturers and give it free to the state governments. Several states had already declared free vaccines for all.
Registration on CoWin or Aarogya Setu app is no more mandatory. Citizens can now walk in at all vaccination centres- government and private- and be provided with onsite registration facilities for both individuals and groups.
The priority population group will be health care workers, frontline workers, citizens above 45 years of age, and then citizens whose second dose is due, followed by citizens 18 years and above. Within the population group of citizens more than 18 years of age, states/UTs may decide their own prioritisation factoring in the vaccine supply schedule, the Centre said.
Facilities of Common Service Centres and Call Centres can be availed by states to help citizens book slots for vaccination.
The central government will also bear the responsibility of 25 per cent of the work related to vaccination with the states, an arrangement implemented in the weeks following the announcement.
The supply of vaccine to the states will be decided by population, COVID-19 caseload and vaccination wastage.
Private sector hospitals can continue to procure 25 per cent of vaccines, but their service charge would be capped at Rs 150 per dose over the fixed price of the vaccine.
Currently, the hospitals can charge a maximum of Rs 780 for Covishield, Rs 1,410 for a dose of Covaxin and Rs 1,145 for the Sputnik-V vaccine. The cost includes taxes as well as Rs 150 service charge for the hospitals.
State governments may monitor the price being so charged. Each vaccine manufacturer would declare the price of vaccine doses for private hospitals, and any subsequent changes would be notified in advance.