Tope said over five lakh people above 45 years are awaiting the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Speaking to reporters, the state health minister said, "There is a dearth of vaccines, hence, we're considering holding off vaccination drive temporarily for the 18-44 age group. 2.75 lakh vaccine doses left for this group, which will be used for 45 years and above group now. Administering second dose is a priority."
'Only 35,000 vials of Covaxin currently available'
The Maharashtra health minister said that only 35,000 vials of Covaxin are currently available with the state government, which will be diverted to those above 45 years of age who are due for a second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
"Around 35,000 doses of Covaxin are available for people above 45 years, but over five lakh people need the second dose of Covaxin. For this, we are diverting Covaxin stock to those above 45 years of age," Tope stated.
'Vaccination suspended for 18+ age group who want Covaxin'
"Three lakh doses of Covaxin which was for the 18 to 44 age group will now be diverted to 45 and above. We are suspending vaccination for the 18+ age group who want Covaxin," the Maharashtra minister added.
"Efficacy of the vaccine is largely affected if the second dose is not administered in a stipulated time. To avoid such health crisis, the state government has decided to divert three lakh vials (of Covaxin) purchased for the 18-44 age category for the people above 45 years," Tope said.
He further added: "Mucormycosis patients will be treated for free under Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana. Over 2,000 cases have been reported and 8 people have died of this infection in the state so far. We are making special wards for these patients."
The state health minister also said that a decision over the extension of lockdown in Maharashtra will be taken in the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
According to the Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy, coronavirus vaccination is free at government vaccination centres that receive doses from the Centre for eligible population groups comprising healthcare workers, frontline workers and people above 45 years of age.
However, states and private hospitals have to procure 50% of the vaccines in order to immunise persons in the age group of 18 to 44 years.
Meanwhile, as per the official data, Maharashtra has 5,93,150 active coronavirus cases. Around 24,920 new cases and 549 related deaths were reported in the state in a span of 24 hours.
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