If you are 18 years or older, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine from May 1

If you are 18 years or older, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine from May 1
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The government of India has made a major policy change allowing everyone above the age of 18 to get a jab of the COVID-19 vaccine from May 1, as India opens up the third phase of the world’s largest vaccination drive.

To improve the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, the government has allowed states to directly buy them from the manufacturers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a Press Information Bureau statement, said that the “government has been working hard from over a year to ensure that maximum number of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible of (sic) time.”

Vaccine makers can sell half of their production directly to the state governments and in the open market at a pre-declared price. The decision on setting the age limit in the distribution of the vaccine has been left to the respective state governments.

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The second wave of COVID-19 infections has been a lot severe in India. The total number of infections in India has crossed 15 million. Latest data showed that for the last five days in a row, there have been at least 200,000 people contracting the virus daily. The official death toll due to COVID-19 in India is 1,78,769, but many fear that it could be a lot higher.

India’s health infrastructure has been way too short of what was needed to tackle the pandemic with minimal fatality. As the world’s largest vaccine maker, there was hope that India would be able to beat the lack of health facilities with timely jabs for a large chunk of the population.

However, the Narendra Modi administration has come under severe criticism for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly, the second wave and the slow pace of vaccinations is one of the reasons.

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While it is a move to cheer, a recent study found that even if India were to open up vaccines for everyone, it may take six to seven months to cover the breadth of India’s population.

The Indian government began the roll out of its massive vaccination drive on January 16, this year. So far, it has managed to distribute around 7.9 million doses of the vaccine for its 1.21 billion strong population.

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