Revised vaccine policy on CMs' requests: Centre to SC

Revised vaccine policy on requests from chief ministers, Centre tells SC

It also said walk-in vaccination is permissible for all and digital divide is not a constraint

Supreme Court of India. Credit: PTI Photo

The Centre on Saturday told the Supreme Court that 31 crore Covid-19 vaccines have been administered across the country by Friday and 135 crore are projected to be available by December 2021 to cover the entire eligible population.

In a fresh affidavit, the Union government said the Prime Minister announced the revised vaccination policy on June 7 after receiving requests from Chief Ministers of 13 states as well as Health Ministers of various states with the objective of "maximising vaccination in the minimum possible time under the most extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances faced by the humanity in general and India in particular".

The Union government has earlier on June 2 faced rap from the top court, which found its vaccination policy as "prima facie arbitrary and irrational" for making the states pay for procuring jabs.

With the new policy, which came into effect on June 21, all persons above 18 years of age throughout the country are entitled to get free vaccination irrespective of their financial position, it said.

"To put it differently, a person below the poverty line and a multi-millionaire are equally entitled to the very same vaccine in the age group of 18 years and above free of cost," the 380-page document said.

It also said walk-in vaccination is permissible for all and digital divide is not a constraint.

The government also introduced a new concept in the reviewed policy to make private vaccination centres accessible to economically weaker sections of the society by the use of “Non-Transferable Vouchers”.

"Any person, institution, industry or NGO having the financial ability can purchase such “non-transferable electronic vouchers” and give it to their staff or other economically weaker sections of the society.

Such pre-paid vouchers can be redeemed by the recipient at private vaccination centres and can get free vaccination in private hospitals," it said, adding, many industries or others can use this for their staff.

It said the total population of the country aged 18 years and above is approximately 93-94 crore. After having ensured 35.6 crore doses as of date, the government made a projected availability of 135 crore vaccine doses for complete vaccination to the eligible population.

The Centre also pointed out on May 12, 2021, the Drugs Controller General of India has permitted Bharat Biotech to conduct clinical trials on healthy volunteers between two years to 18 years for Covaxin.

Besides, Zydus Cadila, which is developing DNA vaccines, has concluded its clinical trial for the age group of 12 to 18 years. Subject to the statutory permissions, this may be available in near future for children.

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