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State can't start drive for people above 18 years from today

State cant start drive for people above 18 years from today
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KOLKATA: The Bengal government will not be able to start a vaccination drive for those in the age group of 18 to 45 years from Saturday as the state is yet to receive vaccine shots from the Centre.

The state government on Friday issued a notification saying that it would not be able to start the inoculation drive for those above 18 years of age but would continue vaccinating people over 45. The Centre had started registration for people above 18 years on its Co-WIN app for the third phase of vaccination.

"Vaccination for health workers, frontline workers and for people above the age of 45 which has been going on for the past few months will be continued at government health facilities. Priority will be given to those who are seeking the second dose," an official said.

Like many other states, Bengal has no stock to undertake the massive drive. The state government has already sought three crore doses of Covid vaccine from the Centre. In a letter written to the Centre on Thursday, the state categorically mentioned that it was ready to procure the doses for both government and private health establishments.

Experts and doctors have, however, blamed the Centre for coming up with an ill-conceived idea especially at a time when vaccine production is pitiably low. They have also raised questions on the fate of the new drive as the private hospitals will not be able to begin the same for all adult population within the next six months unless the government plays the role of a nodal agency.

The Bengal government has, however, assured the private hospitals that it would arrange vaccine doses for them. A senior official of the state government on Friday said Covid vaccination for people in the age group 18-45 years will begin after the state receives the doses. Notification will be issued at the right time, an official said.

Private hospitals are also running dry and they will start inoculation drive only when the vaccine doses will arrive. The state government also maintained that people who have already taken the first dose from any private hospital can now receive the second dose from the government health establishment from May 1. The state government has turned a rescuer for the private hospitals as it is ready to conduct vaccination on the beneficiaries of private hospitals.

The Centre had recently said all the state governments and private hospitals have to procure doses directly from the manufacturers at different rates as the vaccination opens to the population above 18 years of age. The state government had strongly criticised the policy as it discriminates between the Centre, state and the private hospitals as far as the price of vaccine doses is concerned.

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