Assam to vaccinate everyone in 18-45 age group for free

The Assam government will vaccinate everyone in the 18-45 age group for free from May 1 onwards, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said.

Donations received last year for COVID management will be utilised for the purpose, he said.

The state Health Department has already written to Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech for procuring 1 crore vaccines.

“Assam will give FREE vaccines to everyone from 18-45 years. GOI is giving free vaccines for 45+,” Sarma tweeted late on Tuesday.

Funds collected in Asom Arogya Nidhi account last year shall be utilised for procuring the vaccines, he said.

“Today itself, we’ve placed orders for 1 cr doses with @BharatBiotech,” the health minister said.

In September last year, Sarma had informed the Assembly that a total of Rs 116.1 crore contribution from 53,534 people have been received in the account of the Asom Arogya Nidhi to support the government’s efforts in handling the pandemic.

The Centre had announced on April 19 that everyone above 18 years of age will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination from May 1, while private hospitals and states will be able to buy doses from manufacturers.

It also said that vaccine manufacturers will be free to supply 50 per cent doses to state governments and in the open market, for which they will have to make an advance declaration of the price before May 1.

In a letter to the Bharat Biotech chairman and MD on Tuesday, Assam Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) Samir K Sinha expressed interest to procure one crore doses of Covaxin at the rate to be fixed by the central government.

“For this purpose, the terms and conditions of delivery and payment along with schedule of supplies may please be intimated at the earliest,” he wrote.

The principal secretary mentioned that the National Health Mission (NHM), Assam will be the nodal agency for this procurement under the ‘Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy’ of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.

Sinha had told reporters on Tuesday that the Assam government had urged the Centre to send an adequate number of COVID-19 vaccine vials as the state’s stock will be exhausted in 6-7 days.

He said that the state has received a total of 22,93,470 vaccines, comprising 17,52,830 doses of Covishield and 5,40,640 doses of Covaxin, while there is a stock of 5,03,550 vaccines at present.

Meanwhile, the administration of Kamrup Metropolitan district, which primarily comprises Guwahati, has instructed private hospitals to tie up with hotels so that asymptomatic patients can be shifted there in case of a shortage of hospital beds.

The state reported three more deaths due to COVID-19 on Tuesday, while the number of fresh cases rose sharply with 1,651 people testing positive, pushing the tally to 2,27,473.

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