All those above 60 – and those over 45 with comorbidities – to be vaccinated from March 1

The vaccine will be available for free at government hospitals, whereas beneficiaries will have to pay from their pockets at private hospitals.

All those above 60 – and those over 45 with comorbidities – to be vaccinated from March 1

The Indian government is gearing up for the second phase of vaccinations against COVID-19, starting 1 March 2021. This phase will focus on senior citizens – that is, those aged 60 and above, who are estimated to be over 10 crore in India. It will also include citizens over the age of 45 who have comorbidities. A comorbidity is when two or more illnesses occur in the same person. They are generally chronic or long-term conditions.

What has happened so far?

The COVID-19 vaccinations began to be administered in the country on 16 January 2021. The first phase was aimed at healthcare and frontline workers. During this phase, 1.07 crore doses have been administered free of cost so far. Out of these, about 14 lakh beneficiaries have also received the second dose. The Indian Express quoted Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar as saying that very few serious adverse events have been reported in the vaccination process.

Related: COVID-19: Some Frequently Asked Questions 

Where can one get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccine will be available at more than 10,000 government hospitals and other healthcare facilities. In addition, 20,000 private facilities will be roped in to fast-track dissemination of the vaccine to India’s huge population. In the first phase, out of the 10,000 hospitals selected to carry out the vaccination drive for healthcare and frontline workers, only 2000 were private institutions. However, in the second phase, the private sector will play a very large role.

Related: Insurance cover for COVID-19 in India 

What will be the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccines will be given for free at government healthcare institutions. However, if beneficiaries go to private facilities, they will have to pay from their own pocket. The cost of the vaccination in the private sector is currently under discussion and will be announced by the Union Health Ministry in the next 2-3 days, revealed Javadekar. Wipro Founder Azim Premji had earlier estimated that the two doses required per beneficiary should cost approximately Rs 800. 

The government’s decision to provide free vaccination in the second phase comes on the back of the Union Budget announcement of allocating Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccinations. With newer strains of the virus emerging and cases increasing in states such as Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir, this initiative of free vaccinations will provide relief to senior citizens and those with comorbidities. Read this piece to understand how are millennials coping with COVID-19 crisis.


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