The state government of Jharkhand will provide free vaccines to everyone above the age of 18, starting from May 14. The Chief Minister of the state Hemant Soren of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) announced the plan for the vaccination drive on his Twitter on Monday and also mentioned that the cost of purchasing the vaccines will be covered by the state government. Reiterating that the vaccines are safe he urged people to get their jabs without hesitancy.
14 तारीख़ से 18 वर्ष के ऊपर सभी राज्यवासियों को निःशुल्क कोरोना वैक्सीन लगाया जायेगा। इसका पूरा खर्च राज्य सरकार आपके ही करों द्वारा अर्जित पैसों से करेगी।
अतः निःशुल्क वैक्सीन आपका हक़ है एवं पूरी तरह सुरक्षित भी है।
अतः आप बिना किसी संकोच वैक्सीन अवश्य लगायें।
— Hemant Soren (@HemantSorenJMM) May 10, 2021
The previous plan to start the vaccination drive from May 1 did not materialize due to vaccine shortage. The state has currently put an order of 50 lakh vaccines.
The state’s population between the age of 18-44 is above 1.57 crore. Currently, 27.31 Lakh people have been inoculated with first doses including front-line workers as well as people above the age of 45. Over 5.85 Lakh people have been administered with the second dose of the vaccine, the Mint has reported.
The shift in the Indian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy
Amidst the closure of several vaccination centers throughout the country due to vaccine shortage, the central government on April 19 announced a shift in the Indian Vaccination Policy. Along with opening up of vaccination for everyone above the age of 18, it said that state governments were free to purchase vaccines directly from the manufactures instead of the center being a mediator in the process.
Till now 21 states and union territory governments have announced free vaccination drives for people in the category of 18-44. This includes Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Odisha, Assam, Sikkim, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Bihar, Telangana, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Goa.
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Burdening the State Governments with Vaccines Purchase is Not the Best Way Forward
However, the center did not decide on one price at which sellers would be required to sell the vaccines to the state government. This has left the state governments to compete with private medical facilities in the open market to procure vaccines. Health experts have heavily criticized the decision of the central government to put the financial burden of buying vaccines on the state amongst other things.
They have pointed out that the changes are only going to overburden the finances of the state government but also delay the vaccination drive in a time when it should be ramped up. Many have also pointed out that the move came in the light of the center’s failure to ensure successful vaccination drives and as a way to shift the accountability on the state governments.