Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Friday announced that it would take back COVID-19 vaccines from private hospitals and administer these doses to people through state-run health centres only.
State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the government has decided to do so it as per the Centre’s orders.
“The Maharashtra government is going to take back the vaccines given to private hospitals for the inoculation drive as per the Centre’s orders. These vaccine doses will then be administered to beneficiaries through state-run hospitals and centres only,” he said.
Talking about the vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group that is supposed to start from May 1 as per the central government’s instructions, Mr. Tope said, “We need to reduce the number of vaccination centres so that it can offer the doses smoothly on daily basis.”
“We have been told by the vaccine makers that up to 18 lakh vials could be supplied to Maharashtra in the month of May. In such situation, the state is planning to set up one centre per district to inoculate people against COVID-19,” he said.
Mr. Tope insisted that people should visit the vaccination centre with prior appointment.
It will avoid crowding and every one will get the dose, he added.
“Unless we get adequate supply of vaccines, we cannot increase the coverage of population. A detailed statement about it will be made by the chief minister,” Mr. Tope said.
Commenting on the vaccine procurement policy, he said, “The Centre is going to buy 50 per cent of the total vials produced by the manufacturers. Now, the crucial question is who should get the vaccines from the remaining 50 per cent quota, which the Centre has allowed to be sold directly to the state governments and hospitals. I think the central government will have to intervene here as well.”
Every state is reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases, which means more demand for vaccines, he said, adding that the central government needs to come up with some policy so that every state gets an equal share of doses.