Home / Politics / News /  Parliamentary panel on health likely to discuss free covid vaccination for all

NEW DELHI: Even as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has announced the start of the first phase of vaccination against the coronavirus from 16 January, the parliamentary committee on health is expected to discuss the issue amid growing demand from members that the shots be made available free of cost to all.

The standing committee is also likely to urge political parties that there should be no attempt to politicise the vaccination drive.

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“...The committee will also discuss the distribution process of the health authorities that has been prepared together with the union government. The question is that when a lot of countries are consider making Covid-19 free of cost for all citizens, is it even a consideration in India?" said a person in the know of development.

India will begin the first phase of vaccination against coronavirus from Saturday. In order of priority, an estimated 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers will be administered the vaccine, followed by those above the age of 50 years and those with co-morbidities numbering around 27 crore.

“There are instances when political parties have made the vaccination process political and even offered it for free to people of a state during elections. We have seen it happen in Bihar by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that made an announcement before the assembly polls. There is a need for all political to make the vaccination process political and avoid making it an electoral issue," the person added.

The standing committee on health and family welfare in a meeting scheduled on Tuesday is also likely to take up the issue of need for more assistance from Centre to states for the vaccination drive.

“The Centre should cooperate further with the states on the rollout of the vaccine and give ample assistance. The issue here is not just about the common public accessing the vaccine for free but also that the Centre should ensure that the infrastructure cost of rolling out the process is also taken care of," said another person aware of the developments, requesting anonymity.

Several parliamentary committees are looking into the impact of the covid-19 pandemic with at least two other committees – one on science and technology and another on chemicals and fertilisers – looking at issues related particularly to the vaccine. The standing committee on health and family welfare was the first one to submit its report on the outbreak and management of covid-19 pandemic to Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu in November.

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