Will take a call when it’s available: State govt on free distribution of COVID vaccine


Team Udayavani, Oct 24, 2020, 8:38 AM IST

Bengaluru: Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan on Friday hinted that the COVID-19 vaccine, once available, might be administered free of cost to citizens, as he pointed to the universal vaccination undertaken by the government in the past. He, however, also maintained that the government would take a decision on this once the vaccine is available.

“Once the vaccine comes, the government will decide on it. Till now the government has been giving universal vaccination for free, so it will continue. The Chief Minister will decide on it,” Narayan said in response to a question about providing COVID vaccine free of cost, as announced by some other states.

Speaking to reporters here, he said during the prevalence of communicable diseases, governments have to come forward for the protection of society and fulfill its needs. Narayan is also the member of state government’s COVID-19 task force.

On Thursday, the BJP in its manifesto for the Bihar assembly elections promised free COVID-19 vaccines, once it is available, for all. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan too have assured free immunisation against coronavirus for all sections of people in their states as soon as a vaccine is made available.

However, official sources told PTI in New Delhi that the coronavirus vaccine, once available, would be distributed under a special COVID-19 immunisation programme with the Centre procuring the doses directly and making it available for priority groups.

According to them, the Centre will procure the vaccine directly to make it available to the priority groups free-of- charge through the existing network of states and districts. States have been asked not to chart separate pathways of procurement.

The Karnataka health department has been identifying Primary Health Centres, anganwadis and community health centres to ensure proper distribution of vaccines once available, official sources said.

Health Minister K Sudhakar has said a meeting has been convened here next week to discuss how the vaccine should be administered, once available.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said last week that India is expected to have a COVID-19 vaccine in a few months and the country should be in the process of delivering it to people in the next six months. Presently COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of trials.

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