The Maharashtra government on Thursday raised its demand for additional Covid-19 vaccines from the Centre and asked the government to consider making vaccination mandatory for everyone as a solution to vaccine hesitancy.
State’s health minister, Rajesh Tope sought 90 lakh additional doses – 40 lakh of Covaxin and 50 lakh of Covishield and said that “to complete the vaccination of those in the 15-18 age group and also administer the precautionary dose to the eligible population, we have asked the Centre to consider making vaccination mandatory to address hesitancy and to ensure speedy vaccination for all.”
As per a Times of India (TOI) report, the Maharashtra government has been struggling to increase its speed of inoculation and has taken several steps to bring it on par with the national average. But several districts still continue to be on the bottom of the ladder.
As per the Centre’s guidelines, the home-grown vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech is the only one that is to be administered to teenagers in the 15 to 18 age group. Tope also said Maharashtra has also sought 50 lakh doses of Covishield for administering the precautionary dose. He said feedback from district authorities was that there was a shortage of Covaxin for the booster dose. Tope said the Centre should take steps to tackle vaccine hesitancy among people.
Taking cognizance of the unprecedented spike in Covid-19 cases, attributed to Omicron, PM Modi on Thursday, held a virtual meeting with all the chief ministers. Maha chief minister Uddhav Thackeray could not participate in the meeting due to his ill health, and the health minister representing the state. Reportedly, Maharashtra did not get a chance to speak in the meeting and all the demands by the state have been sent to the Centre in writing. “Vaccination is the biggest weapon to slow down the surge and the Centre must come out with a policy to address hesitancy,” Tope told TOI.
Along with addressing vaccine hesitancy, Maha also raised the issue of under-reporting of cases as most people are opting for self-testing kits. “Lakhs of home-testing kits are being sold in the state but test results are not being communicated to the state. There has to be a mechanism in place to ensure that every positive result gets recorded in the system. At the state level we have called for more regulation at the pharmacy level,” Tope said.
The minister added pharmacies have been asked to keep a record of people purchasing coronavirus home testing kits and provide information about the same to government authorities. He said 4,000 swab samples have been taken for genomic sequencing so far in the state, out of which 1,300 were found infected with the Omicron variant and 2,700 with the Delta strain of coronavirus.
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