Tamil Nadu joins list of states to defer Covid vaccination drive on May 1, says supply inadequate

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The Tamil Nadu government on Friday deferred the rollout of the third phase of the vaccination drive for all adults from May 1 citing a short supply of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). Tamil Nadu health secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan, however, said people above 45 years of age will continue to be inoculated against Covid-19. He said that the state government is in touch with the Centre and the vaccine makers—Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech—regarding the issue.

“Instead of waiting till tomorrow (and disappoint people), I wish to clarify (now) that we are unsure when and how much out of 1.5 crore doses of vaccine sought by Tamil Nadu, will arrive,” Radhakrishnan told news agency PTI.

Also read | Karnataka tells citizens to not go for Phase 3 vaccination over doses’ shortage

On April 28, the state government ordered the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation (TNMSC) to procure 15 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to facilitate the free vaccination of all people above 18 years of age in the state. In the order, the government said, “All necessary steps are being taken as per the order of the chief minister for the free vaccination of people from 18 to 44 years of age from May 1.”

The health secretary’s comments came as the government’s order is yet to be fulfilled. Radhakrishnan also assured that the state has enough vaccine doses for the inoculation of those above 45 years of age. He mentioned that an order for 15 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine has been placed by the state government and is unsure about when this would be delivered.

Several other states in the country have also hinted at a possible delay in beginning the third phase of the vaccination programme due to the shortage in the Covid-19 vaccine stock. Earlier in the day, Karnataka health minister Dr K Sudhakar said people would be notified after the state government gets confirmation from the Serum Institute of India in Pune. “We gave orders to SII, Pune for over 1 crore doses. But they are not prepared to give it to us from tomorrow. We request people, especially those between 18 to 44 years of age, to refrain from going to hospitals thinking that you may be vaccinated tomorrow,” news agency ANI quoted the minister as saying.

Also read | Vaccine drive for 18+ not to start in Delhi from May 1: Kejriwal

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal too said that the vaccine drive for inoculating everyone above 18 years will not be launched in the city from May 1. He also asked people to not visit the vaccination centres due to concerns about social distancing norms. “The vaccines have not reached us till now. We are in touch with the manufacturers and the first batch of 300,000 doses of Covishield vaccine is likely to arrive in a day or two. Hence, I request people not to throng vaccination centres. Once we receive the doses, I will formally announce the date of launch of the mega vaccination drive,” Kejriwal said.

The Centre on April 19 announced that the country’s vaccination drive has been expanded to include all people above 18 years of age to receive the shot.

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