Mamata wants Covid vaccine for all before polls, writes to PM Modi
Kolkata: Expressing her concern over "people in general" going to polling stations in the upcoming elections without vaccination coverage, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday urging to ensure that the Bengal government can procure the shots on a priority basis "to provide vaccination free of cost" to everyone in the state.
The state government is willing to purchase the vaccines and the Chief Minister has requested Prime Minister Modi to mention the designated points for procurement on a priority basis.
While addressing the rally at Sahaganj Dunlop Ground on Wednesday, Banerjee took a dig at the Modi government for not being able to provide vaccination coverage to the masses yet. "The first wave of Covid has gone and again cases are going up in certain states. Despite such a situation, the Centre has failed to arrange vaccine for all," Banerjee said.
Stating that inoculation of vaccines to all frontline workers is being covered, Banerjee maintained in the letter that "...the worrying point is that, in the ensuing elections, the people, in general, will be forced to go to the polling stations without any vaccination coverage. We feel that it is equally important to reach out to them with a rapid vaccination programme immediately for the interest of health and well being of all concerned with the election process."
She further wrote in the letter: "Under the circumstances, the Government of West Bengal has decided to procure adequate numbers of vaccines for members of the public at large. We would request you to kindly take up the matter with the appropriate authority so that the state government is able to purchase the vaccines from designated point(s) on top-priority basis because the West Bengal government wants to provide vaccination free of cost to all the people."
She also stated: "...All the health workers, police workers, municipal workers, revenue workers and other frontline workers are being covered by Covid vaccination at a rapid pace. In fact, West Bengal being an election-bound state, we are required to reach out practically to every government and parastatal employee on an urgent basis to make the election safe."
Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien, on the other hand, tweeted: "All-India, of three crore healthcare and frontline workers who needed to be vaccinated, 1,08,84,879 have been vaccinated with the first #COVID19 dose. That is just about 33%. The same as #Bengal #FactCheck always wins over a #FakeNews lumpen."
Meanwhile, in a major decision, the Centre on Wednesday decided to launch Phase 3 of Covid-19 vaccination from March 1 under which everyone above 60 years of age and those over 45 years with comorbidities will get the vaccine for free only at government vaccination centres while those opting to get the jab at any private facility will have to pay for the same.
While addressing a press conference, Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said: "The Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took the decision on the next phase of the vaccination and it will start on March 1."