2 min read.Updated: 05 Apr 2021, 10:17 PM ISTLeroy Leo
Currently, the government is allowing vaccination of people only aged 45 years and above
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lower the eligibility for vaccination to include all people of the age 25 years and above.
Currently, the government is allowing vaccination of people only aged 45 years and above. Vaccines administered at government health facilities are free, while private hospitals are allowed to charge ₹250 per dose.
“I further request you to lower it (the eligibility criteria of age) to 25 (years), as the states facing the surge are having to place curbs to safeguard the lives of the population. However, if a large number of our young and working population is vaccinated, the intensity of the cases would be much lower than the treatment that they need today," Thackeray said in a letter to Modi on Monday.
Maharashtra so far has administered the highest number of doses at 7.8 million, accounting for nearly 10% of the 79 million vaccine doses administered so far, according to data from the union health ministry.
The request comes at a time when Maharashtra has been seeing a rapid surge in cases in a second wave. India itself has seen a surge in new covid-19 cases, with daily addition being a record 103,794 on Sunday. Maharashtra accounted for over 57,000 cases then, with Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh also seeing over 4,000 people each test positive.
Thackeray is among the first chief ministers to seek further lowering of the age criteria for covid-19 vaccinations. The Maharashtra chief minister’s request to expand vaccinations follow similar clamour from the industry. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in a letter to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan asked the government to expand its covid-19 immunisation programme to also cover people who are in the 18-45 year age group.
“This age group has been acting as the superspreaders of infection in the country... Given that there is no shortage of vaccines and there is a huge scope of augmenting inoculation capacity through greater involvement of private sector, we urge you to open up vaccination for this age group to help subside the spread of infection as well as severity of cases in the country," FICCI President Uday Shankar said in the letter written on Friday. Mint has viewed a copy of the letter.
On Monday, information technology firm Tata Consultancy Services, along with National Institute of Industrial Engineering, also issued a research paper, which sought vaccination for all people 18 years of age and above in 130 red districts to arrest the rapid spread of the disease.
Apart from arresting the spread, the clamour from the industry for widening the eligibility of vaccination is also on account of protecting their employees against the infectious respiratory disease and allow resumption of work from offices.
Last month, companies like TCS, Reliance Industries, JSW Group, Bharti Airtel, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank announced that they will reimburse the money that their staff spends to get themselves and their families vaccinated.