Tamil Nadu on Monday said it would be forced to suspend the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive in the state as it has enough doses to vaccinate beneficiaries for only the next few days.
Principal Secretary (Health) Dr J Radhakrishnan said the Centre has informed the state government that the next supply of vaccines will be available only on or after June 6. The state on Monday evening had just 4.93 lakh doses in stock, Radhakrishnan said, adding that the stock is expected to be over by Wednesday.
“For the past few days, barring Sunday, we have been vaccinating 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh people a day and if the same momentum is maintained, the vaccines are expected to be over by Tuesday. We have to suspend the drive, and there is no other way,” Radhakrishnan said.
The state has so far received 82.49 lakh doses of Covishield and Covaxin from the Centre to be administered to those above 45 years of age, while 13.10 lakh was received from vaccine manufacturers under the state quota.
The vaccination drive, which was quite slow in Tamil Nadu, picked up pace in the past week with those belonging to 18-44 years of age coming in droves to get vaccinated. As of Sunday night, 87.70 lakh doses had been administered to people in Tamil Nadu.
Radhakrishnan said the Centre is yet to supply 1.74 lakh doses of vaccine to the state promised for May. Though the allocation to Tamil Nadu for June has been increased to 42.58 lakh, the first supply will be on June 6 and the second on June 9, tentatively.
“If we receive vaccines by Tuesday or Wednesday, we do not have to suspend the drive. Else, we have to,” Radhakrishnan added. The state government has floated a global tender for buying 3.5 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines to be administered to those belonging to 18-44 years of age.
The state has also asked the Centre to give the Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) on the outskirts of Chennai to it on lease for the production of vaccines by a private player.