India’s Vaccine Drive For 18-44 Year Olds Off To A Slow Start
Only twelve Indian states have started vaccinating 18-44 year olds against Covid-19 in the third phase of the country’s inoculation drive. Yet, the pace of administration remains slow.
In the four days since the country’s vaccine programme was expanded, over just 6.6 lakh individuals aged between 18-44 years have been administered their first dose, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra are the only states that have administered over 1 lakh doses to 18-44 year-olds in the first four days.
India opened up vaccinations to all those above 18 years of age from May 1 as Prime Minister Narendra Modi administration’s rushes to curb a deadly second wave of the virus. As per the April 19 new vaccine policy, states are solely responsible for the procurement and administering of vaccines for the 18-44 age group. They’ve had 11 days to prepare.
And it is not just the expanded vaccine drive that has been off to a slow start.
India has cumulatively administered over 16 crore doses so far. Of these, just over 3 crore are second doses.
While the country has been doing an average 25.2 lakh vaccinations daily for the last one month, the pace has further slowed over the last one week. That was despite the expectation that opening up inoculations for all adults would lead to faster vaccine coverage.
Five States Run Out Of Central Supply
One key reason for the slowing pace of vaccinations in India is the shortage of vaccine supply. States receive vaccines allocated by the centre for the inoculation of those above 45 years.
May 4 data shows the balance stock with states has fallen to 75.2 lakh. At the current average rate of vaccination that would be enough for just about three days.
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal and Punjab have run out of vaccine supply for 45+ year olds.
The Centre has said that over 48 lakh vaccine doses are in the supply pipeline and would be delivered to states within the next three days.