After Maharashtra’s SOS on vaccines, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today slammed what he called “deplorable attempts by some state governments to distract attention from their failures and spread panic among the people”.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said this morning that the state may run out of Covid vaccines in three days and he had asked the centre to send more stocks soonest.
Harsha Vardhan said he had seen “irresponsible statements” made by state government functionaries that had the potential to “mislead the public and spread panic”. He said in his statement that he wanted to set the record straight.
The Union Health Minister also tore into demands by “a section of political leaders” to open up vaccinations to all adults or drastically lower the age bar, pointing out that vaccinations so far had not been optimum.
The government had “no option” but to prioritise “so long as the supply of vaccines remains limited”, said Harsh Vardhan.
He said the centre had been frequently and transparently updating all states on the demand-supply dynamics of vaccines and the vaccination strategy.
“Nonetheless, it bears repeating that the primary aim of vaccination is to reduce mortality among the most vulnerable people, and enable the society to beat the pandemic. Accordingly, the world’s largest vaccination drive was launched in India with the first recipients being our healthcare personnel and front-line workers. Once this had progressed to a certain level, vaccination was opened up to further categories and is currently open to everyone above the age of 45 years,” he said.
“When states ask to open up vaccine supplies to everyone over 18, we must presume that they have done saturation coverage of healthcare workers, frontline workers and senior citizens. But the facts are altogether different.”