The government on Monday opened up vaccination against the coronavirus for everyone above the age of 18 years from May 1. The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the day. All adults will be able to take the shots as part of the “liberalised and accelerated phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination”, the Centre said in a statement. The decision came on a day India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases crossed 1.50 crore with a record single-day rise of 2,73,810 new infections. The country’s total active cases surpassed the 19-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday.

A number of other decisions regarding flexible pricing, procurement, eligibility and administrations of vaccines during the third phase of the inoculation drive was taken during the meeting. “The government has been working hard from over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible of time,” the PM said, adding India is vaccinating people at world record pace and “we will continue this with even greater momentum”.

Hours later, Modi put out a tweet saying a number of key decisions on vaccination were taken during the meeting. “Together, we will defeat the COVID-19 global pandemic,” he wrote.

Now, states, private hospitals and industrial establishments will be able to procure the doses directly from manufacturers. Under the third phase of the vaccination drive commencing next month, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50 per cent doses to state governments and in the open market.

Manufacturers would have to make an advance declaration of the price for 50 per cent supply that would be available to the state governments and in the open market before May 1 an official statement said. Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments, etc would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers.

Private Hospitals would have to procure their supplies of COVID-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50 per cent supply earmarked for entities other than those coming through the central government channel. The private Vaccination providers would need to transparently declare their self-set vaccination price and the eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, that is everyone above the age of 18, the statement added.

The government’s vaccination drive of providing free vaccination to those belonging to essential and priority groups — healthcare workers, frontline workers and those above 45 years — will continue as before.

(With PTI inputs)

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