New Delhi: As India inches close to conduct one of world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination drives, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday said that as many as three crore people of the state could be given the vaccine in the first round itself. While speaking to reporters, the minister said that it could happen if Centre gives its nod by the end of this month. ALSO READ | US: Severe Allergic Reaction In Healthcare Workers After Pfizer Shot; Concerns Over Side-Effects Rise Again
While speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Tope also urged the Central government to carry out free vaccination drive in the country.
“If the Centre gives permission for mass vaccination by December end, then Maharashtra can carry out the process at the mass level from January. Our preparation is going on, wherein around three crore people can be administered the vaccine,” news agency PTI quoted the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leader as saying.
“My personal guess is that if we put together all the medical staff workers, frontline workers, people above 50 years of age and those with co-morbidities but below 50 years of age, then the figure would be around three crore in the state. These people will get the vaccine in the first round,” Tope added.
He also said that like Maharashtra, several states have expressed their wish to provide the vaccine free of cost to people and thus Centre should go for free vaccination in the country as states are now waiting for the central government’s call on this decision.
“Permissions and authorisation to carry out vaccination in the state is in the Centre’s hand. Once it is convinced about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine dosages, it would take further steps in terms of giving permission and distribution of dosages,” Tope added.
He also expressed that every person selected for vaccination in the first round will get an SMS on his or her mobile number. As per Maharashtra government’s plan for vaccine rollout, the person will have to wait at the facility for half an hour after receiving the dose. All these procedures will be strictly followed at vaccination centres.
In case Centre does not give dosages for free, Tope said that Maharashtra government will not shrug off from our responsibility towards the citizens of the state. “It is our wish that the Centre provides the vaccine for free,” he said.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra’s COVID-19 tally rose to 18,84,773 on Thursday with the addition of 3,880 fresh cases, while more than 4,350 patients recovered from the infection. The state also reported 65 more deaths, taking the fatality count to 48,499.