Despite the commencement of vaccination for 18 to 44 year olds on May 1, disappointment is the order of the day as few people in this age group have succeeded in getting their shots. Till date, just 34 lakh persons in this age group have got jabbed despite over 7 crore persons registering on the Cowin platform since enrollment was opened on April 28. Against this humongous demand, just 2 crore doses will be available for state governments in May for this age group.
With the promised doses yet to materialise, many states haven’t yet commenced vaccination for the under-45 cohort or have stopped it midway. There is also much heartburn over the criteria followed for vaccine allocation. Some states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi have vaccinated in lakhs while others with high active caseloads like Karnataka and Kerala are lagging far behind or have not even commenced inoculations.
An option before the Centre is to implement a longer gap between Covishield doses, which will allow some diversion of doses to the 18-44 age group. Centre has booked nearly 16 crore doses from Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech for delivery in May, June and July to vaccinate the priority group. Right now, too many people are logging into CoWin and facing disappointment. There are also several crore citizens who have no digital access.
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Meanwhile, state governments are attacking vaccine companies for slow delivery of booked doses. The fault does not lie with the companies but the sudden decision last month to open up vaccinations for all adults which gave companies little time to ramp up supply. Given the supply-demand mismatch, it is incumbent upon the central and state governments to communicate to the younger population that their turns could take several weeks.
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