All above 60 years of age, 45-plus with comorbidities to get free COVID vaccine at govt hospitals

The Health Ministry will work out the quantum of vaccine cost people would have to pay for jabs at private hospitals

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 24

From March 1, all elderly aged 60 years and above and persons aged 45 plus with underlying health conditions will get free Covid vaccination at designated government health facilities.

The union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday decided to bear the cost of COVID jabs for the above mentioned categories provided they seek the doses at designated 10,000 health facilities in the government sector.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar announced the decision today saying the second phase of national COVID inoculation drive will start from March 1 and free vaccines will be provided to the two categories to be covered if they go to public facilities.

“Free jabs at government facilities will be administered to anyone aged 60 years and above and to people aged 45 years and above who gave co morbidities like diabetes,” Javadekar said.

People of the above two age categories who visit private facilities for COVID jabs will have to pay a cost.

The Health Ministry will work out the quantum of vaccine cost people would have to pay for jabs at private hospitals.

The ministry will also clarify, which comorbidities will be covered among people aged 45 years and above.

The government further clarified that the efficacy and credibility of Indian vaccines COVAXIN and Covishield has been firmly established worldwide and countries have received Indian vaccines.

“Are countries accepting and receiving made in India vaccines or not? Some in cost and some free? We should sing praises of the strength of Indian vaccines which even Latin American nations have asked for,” law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

He was answering questions on whether people will get a choice as to which vaccine to take once population specific vaccination starts.

The government is aiming to speed up vaccination to grant herd immunity to Indians to minimise any potential adverse impact of a second wave with infection rising in some states.

The Centre has sent teams to Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, MP, J-K to detect the reason behind case surge and guide local governments in containment.

Punjab, Maharashtra, Haryana, J-K are among states that reported surges in active cases over yesterday while Kerala reported a drop.

The centre has also written to high burden states to escalate inoculation in districts reporting rise in cases and positivity rates.

Punjab’s SBS Nagar, Kapurthala and Muktsar are among districts of worry along with J-K’s Pulwama.

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