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People Lining Up in Rural Areas, Limited Stock: Maharashtra May First Vaccinate 35-44 Age Group

Beneficiaries wait in long queues to get vaccinated in MMRC dedicated COVID-19 Health Centre at Goregaon, in Mumbai. (PTI)

Beneficiaries wait in long queues to get vaccinated in MMRC dedicated COVID-19 Health Centre at Goregaon, in Mumbai. (PTI)

Maharashtra is vaccinating people in the 18-44 age group only in five centres in a district, as the number of doses is limited.

Amid limited stock of Covid-19 vaccine for the 18-44 age group and to control the crowd at vaccination centres, Maharashtra plans to first give the shot to those in the 35-44 age group, giving preference to people with comorbidities, the government suggested on Friday.

CM Uddhav Thackeray is expected to take a decision on the proposal while the state health minister Rajesh Tope said, adding the vaccination for those in the 18-34 age group would start when the doses are adequate with the state, Hindustan Times reported.

Currently, Maharashtra is vaccinating people in the 18-44 age group only in five centres in a district, as the number of doses is limited. The state started the drive with 3 Lakh Covishield doses and later purchased 4.79 Lakh Covaxin doses. The report said that so far, 2.15 Lakh people in the 18-44 category have been inoculated since May 1.

The Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the move is being planned as there were several instances where people from urban areas took appointments at vaccination centres in rural areas creating unrest among locals in rural areas.

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“In many places, tech-savvy people from cities take appointments for vaccination in talukas and rural areas. Till we have abundant supply of vaccines, we will have to make slots as per the age group and comorbidities. If 100% from the 18-44 category are allowed to go, there can be crowding. We plan to have an age bracket of 35 to 44, with preference to people with comorbidities. I will discuss this with the chief minister,” Tope reportedly said.

The state is also in talks with Russia’s RDIF to purchase Sputnik V doses. “The (Serum) institute had assured us that it would supply an additional 350,000 doses, but so far it has not come. For the 18-44 age group, we are going slow as per the availability of 779,000 vaccines. As we get more stock, we will ramp it up,” he added.

The state is left under 1 lakh doses remaining, therefore the vaccination drive for people over the age of 45 is expected to slow down this weekend, Tope said. Maharashtra had received 900,000 doses earlier this week from the Centre. Over 400,000 people in the state are due for their second dose of Covaxin. The Centre provides vaccines to the states for free.

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