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All Above 45 Years Eligible for Vaccine from April 1: Centre

All Above 45 Years Eligible for Vaccine from April 1: Centre

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Mar 23: With several states experiencing a second wave of Corona surge, the centre government on Tuesday decided to make a major change in the vaccination drive opening up the eligibility for the jab to everyone above the age of 45 irrespective of any co-morbidity.

The relaxations in the age restrictions will be effective from April 1, the union minister Prakash Javadekar said after a meeting of the union cabinet which decided to invite all above 45 years to get themselves vaccinated.

Javadekar announced that there would be no need for medical certificates supporting co-morbidity conditions, as the government had stipulated earlier for the second phase of vaccination.

The decision has been taken based on scientific advice, the minister said adding that the gap between Covishield doses has also been extended up to eight weeks, from its earlier four weeks, as experts said this was more effective in building immunity.

India’s vaccination drive entered the second phase from March 1 as senior citizens and people above the age of 45 years with co-morbidities were made eligible to receive the vaccine shots. For people between the age group of 45 and 59, medical certificates in proof of their health conditions were mandatory. But as the Centre is aiming to speed up the pace of the vaccination in the face of an alarming rise in the number of daily Covid-19 infections, now anyone above the age of 45 can get vaccinated, the Cabinet decided on Tuesday.

In the past few weeks, several states had been requesting the centre to lift the age bar and open the vaccination for all to check the new surge. The Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday requested the Centre to include people younger than 60 years of age under the vaccination drive.

“Vaccination is going on well and at a fast pace. Around 4.85 crore people have already got vaccinated. Many of them have got their second doses too. 32.5 lakh doses were administered yesterday in 24 hours. In February, our daily average was 3.77 lakh, it surpassed 15 lakh in March,” Javadekar said.

“Would urge everyone above 45 years to get themselves registered and inoculated,” the minister said adding that adequate doses of vaccines are available at present in India. “We are proud that India’s both vaccines are successful. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself took Covaxin. So you can take any vaccine. And take a doctor’s advice regarding the gap between the two doses,” Javadekar said.

The vaccine is the only shield against Covid-19, the minister said, adding, “We will have to continue using masks for another one year and a half. Similarly, we will have to wash hands, maintain social distancing. Only vaccination is the shield.”

The decision comes with the cumulative vaccination figures touching the 5 crore-mark and in the backdrop of six states — Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu reporting a surge in the daily new cases.

On Tuesday, the health ministry said Maharashtra reported 24,645 cases. It continues to report the highest daily share of new cases (60.53%) in the country. It is followed by Punjab with 2,299 while Gujarat reported 1,640 new cases.

In view of the fresh upsurge, the union home ministry has issued a set of fresh guidelines for the effective control of Covid-19. The guidelines, which will be effective from April 1, has asked states and Union Territories to enforce the ‘test-track-treat’ protocol and laid down containment measures. It has also said governments should take all necessary measures to promote Covid- appropriate behaviour in workplaces and in public, especially in crowded places.

With several states witnessing a second wave of surge in Covid-19 cases, the governments of the affected states are mulling to impose lockdown in some areas. While some states have already announced Covid-related restrictions and night curfews in affected districts, states such as Punjab and Maharashtra are considering if a complete lockdown would be required in affected areas to bring down the current case surge.

The Union Health Ministry has said that Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu accounted for 80.90 per cent of new cases reported in the last 24 hours.

It has also said governments should take all necessary measures to promote Covid- appropriate behaviour in workplaces and in public, especially in crowded places. It stated, “States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions, at district/ sub-district and city/ ward level, with a view to contain the spread of COVID-19… All activities have been permitted outside Containment Zones and SOPs have been prescribed for various activities. These include: movement by passenger trains; air travel; metro trains; schools; higher educational institutions; hotels and restaurants; shopping malls, multiplexes and entertainment parks; yoga centres and gymnasiums; exhibitions, assemblies and congregations.”


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