Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], April 25 (ANI): Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday announced free vaccination against COVID-19 for all citizens of the state in the age group of 18 to 44 years.
The State Government will spend Rs 2,000 crore on this vaccination drive, said the Chief Minister's Office (CMO).
The chief minister said, "Every life is precious for us. We want everyone in the state to be safe. For that the state government has taken the decision that people in the age group of 18 to 44 years will not have to pay money for COVID vaccination, as this is the responsibility of the government to take care of its people."
"Under this free vaccination drive, around two crore people of this age group will benefit and state government will spend Rs 2,000 crore for this purpose," he added.
As per the CMO, the Odisha Government has already started the process of buying the COVID-19 vaccine.
State Health and Family Welfare Department has placed the order to procure 10.34 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech and 3.77 crore doses of Covishield vaccine from the Serum Institute for the third phase of the vaccination starting from May 1.
Several states including Telangana, Kerala, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have already announced free vaccination against COVID-19 for all their citizens.
The Centre on April 19 had announced a ''liberalised'' policy, making all above 18 years of age eligible to get vaccinated from May 1. It has also allowed state governments and private hospitals to purchase vaccines from manufacturers.
As per the central government, manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines will be free to supply 50 per cent doses to state governments and in the open market, for which they will have to make an advance declaration of the price before May 1.
India had started the COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 with two vaccines -- Covishield (Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited).
Notably, Bharat Biotech on Saturday announced Covaxin, the indigenous vaccine against COVID-19 will be available to state governments at Rs 600 per dose and private hospitals at Rs 1,200 per dose.
Earlier, the Serum Institute of India (SII) fixed the prices of the Covishield vaccine at Rs 400 per dose for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals.
India commenced its second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to inoculate people above 60 years and those over 45 with comorbidities against the coronavirus from March 1. From April 1, all above 45 years were allowed to take the vaccine.
In the next phase beginning May 1, all above the age of 18 would be eligible to receive the shot. (ANI)