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The central government has asked states to allow covid vaccines to be administered at offices with about 100 workers who are 45 years of age or older and are willing to take the shot.

The vaccination can begin on 11 April at both government and private offices, the central government said on Wednesday. Family members of office workers won’t be eligible.

With this, the government aims to make it easier for a substantial proportion of the population falling in this age group to take the shots without having to miss work, a reason cited by many for not getting vaccinated yet.

“In order to increase the access of vaccine to these populations, covid-19 vaccination sessions may be organized at workplaces, which are having about 100 eligible and willing (to facilitate optimal utilization of vaccine dosage and reduce wastage) beneficiaries by tagging these workplaces with all existing covid vaccination centres," Rajesh Bhushan, Union health secretary said in a letter to states.

To be sure, the government order makes no mention of the vast majority of India’s workers, who are in the unorganized sector.

“Please initiate due consultations with private/public sector employers and management to prepare for the launch of workplace vaccination. Such workplace vaccination centres may be launched across states and Union territories from 11 April," Bhushan said in the letter.

Bhushan said organizing vaccination at the workplace will not only be convenient for the staff but also help avoid travel and, thus, reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

According to the guidelines, the district task force, chaired by the district magistrate, and urban task force, chaired by the municipal commissioner, will identify such government and private workplaces after deliberations with employers and heads of offices.

Workplace management will designate one of their senior staff to work as a nodal officer to coordinate with district health authorities and private covid vaccination centres (CVC).

The nodal officer will oversee and facilitate all aspects of vaccination at workplaces, such as registration of beneficiaries and availability of physical and technology infrastructure.

The government said no outsiders, including eligible family members, will be allowed for vaccination at “CVC at Workplace".

“Beneficiaries must be registered in Co-WIN portal prior to vaccination. The CVC nodal officer will ensure registration of all targeted beneficiaries and facility of on-the-spot registration will also be available but only to employees of the workplace," the guidelines state, adding that the government and private CVCs are already linked to some cold chain point for receiving vaccines. These CVCs will continue to use the same mechanism to receive vaccines at the workplace CVC, the government said.

The central government on Tuesday asked all its employees aged 45 years and above to get themselves vaccinated.

They were also advised to continue to follow covid-appropriate behaviour such as frequent washing of hands and sanitization, wearing a mask or face cover and observing social distancing, even after the vaccination.

The total number of doses administered so far is nearly 90 million.

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