India’s Vaccine Drive For 18-44 Year Olds: Six States Cross 1 Lakh Doses Mark
People wait in an observation area after receiving a dose of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin vaccine at a Covid-19 vaccination center at a municipal hospital in Pune. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

India’s Vaccine Drive For 18-44 Year Olds: Six States Cross 1 Lakh Doses Mark

30 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 remains slow, with only six states administering more than 1 lakh doses so far.

In the seven days since the country’s vaccine programme was expanded, 14.78 lakh individuals aged between 18-44 years have been administered their first dose, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on May 7. Maharashtra is the only state to administer more than 3 lakh doses to 18-44 year-olds so far, while Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have administered over 1 lakh doses each.

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.

Also read: The Who, What, When Of Vaccination In India: BQ Explains

And it is not just the expanded vaccine drive that has been off to a slow start. Overall vaccinations across the country have slowed. India has cumulatively administered 16.71 crore doses so far. Of these, 3.41 crore are second doses.

On an average, India inoculated about 25 lakh individuals every day in April. That has only fallen since May 1 despite the expectation that a wider vaccine programme would lead to faster vaccine coverage.

There has been a slight uptick for the last two days with daily vaccinations crossing 20 lakh. Still, the rate remains lower than the 30-day average.

Also read: Some States Getting Smaller Share Of Vaccines Than What They Need, Says SBI Research

Vaccine Shortage

The slowing vaccination drive has been partly due to the shortage of doses.

While there is no public data on the procurement of doses for 18-44 year olds by states, the central government has been releasing the number of vaccines it has in the pipeline for those aged above 45.

As of May 8, the balance stock with states to vaccinate this age group was at 84 lakh doses. That would be enough to for just over three days of vaccinations at the current pace.

The Centre has said that 53 lakh vaccine doses are in the supply pipeline and would be delivered to states within the next three days.

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