Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 7
Starting June 21, India will administer Covid vaccines at government inoculation centres free of cost to all adults with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announcing a major decision to return to the old system of centralised procurement of jabs for further free distribution and administration to states.
Assuring enhanced vaccine supplies in near future, the Prime Minister said the Centre had decided to procure 75 per cent vaccines including 25 per cent set aside for states under a liberalised policy that commenced from May 1, and this had been done on the demand of states.
“Several states that earlier sought decentralization of procurement later realized the challenges of the process including the reality of short vaccine supplies globally. Many such states had a rethink and urged the Centre to revert to the pre May 1 policy of centralised procurement. Many states started saying the previous policy was good. We started thinking on this demand of returning to pre-May 1 system of procurement and have now decided that the Centre will handle the 25 per cent vaccine-related work given to states. A system will be developed in two weeks. From June 21, all 18 plus people will be given free vaccines through 75 per cent central procurement and states won’t have to spend anything on vaccines,” the Prime Minister said on Monday.
He announced that the government will ensure free vaccination for all.
“Those who want to take vaccines private can do so at a cost. The 25 per cent procurement will remain available to private hospitals but they would have to cap service charge per dose at Rs 150,” said the prime minister.
Noting that there is no place for political bickering and one-upmanship in the national Covid inoculation programme the Prime Minister said on Monday the vaccine drive between January 16 to April 30 was progressing smoothly under the aegis of the Centre when several states started demanding decentralization of the process which was eventually done.
“The country was progressing well towards free vaccine for all. Citizens were waiting for their turn to get vaccinates. That was when many states started demanding decentralisation of the process. Someone asked why only a certain age group should be covered, someone asked why the centre should decide who to vaccinate first; some even asked why elders should be covered first? A range of pressures was created and a section of the media even ran a campaign. The justification given was health is a state subject. After a lot of introspection we changed the policy keeping in mind the demand of states and said let states to 25 per cent procurement from May 1 if they so want,” said the PM, explaining the recent drift in the pace of vaccinations amid shortages of doses.
He said the states soon realised the problems faced in vaccine rollout and awakened to the low availability of vaccines worldwide.
‘With the second wave peaking in May, vaccine eagerness rising and states experiencing problems, several of them told us the old system was good and that we should revert to that. So we have decided to procure 25 per cent share of the states for free supply to them, as before,’ the PM noted.