Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday said that if the Centre gives its nod by the end of this month to carry out COVID-19 vaccination at mass level, then around three crore people could be given the vaccine in the state in the first round. He made the statement while speaking to reporters.
Tope also urged the Centre to carry out free COVID-19 vaccination in the country. "If the Centre gives permission for mass vaccination by December end, then Maharashtra can carry out the process at the mass level from January. Our preparation is going on, wherein around three crore people can be administered the vaccine," he said.
"My personal guess is that if we put together all the medical staff workers, frontline workers, people above 50 years of age and those with co-morbidities but below 50 years of age, then the figure would be around three crore in the state. These people will get the vaccine in the first round," he said. "Like Maharashtra, several states have expressed their wish to provide the vaccine free of cost to people. I think the Centre should go for free vaccination in the country. We are now waiting for the central government's call on this decision," he said.
"Permissions and authorisation to carry out vaccination in the state is in the Centre's hand. Once it is convinced about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine dosages, it would take further steps in terms of giving permission and distribution of dosages," Tope added.
Every person selected for vaccination in the first round will get an SMS on his or her mobile number. That person will have to wait at the facility for half an hour after receiving the dose. All these procedures will be strictly followed at our centres, the minister said.
"If the Centre does not give the dosages free of cost, we will not shrug off from our responsibility towards the citizens of the state. It is our wish that the Centre provides the vaccine for free," he said.