Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday directed the health department to order 30 lakh Covishield doses for vaccination of the 18-45 age group, with directions to use the CM Covid Relief Fund for meeting the vaccine requirements of the poor.
The Chief Minister asked the department to immediately place order for the 30 lakh doses with the Serum institute of India (SII) so that the supplies can start coming in at the earliest, even though as per information provided by the central government for delivery of vaccines for 18-45 age group is not expected before May 15.
To ensure free vaccination of the poor in government hospitals, Amarinder Singh said in addition to the CM Covid relief fund, CSR funds should also be tapped into.
The ESIC should be asked to support the vaccination of industrial workers covered in the scheme, and the Board for Welfare of Construction Workers for construction labourers, he added.
Reviewing the vaccination strategy, the Chief Minister requested the expert group led by Gagandeep Kang to submit the strategy for prioritisation of 18-45 years group (vulnerable groups in high risk areas) in its first report by April 29.
He also made it clear that in pursuing the 18-45 age group vaccination strategy, the state government will not compromise on vaccination of 45 plus age group.
The Chief Minister further said the government will consider approaching Astrazeneca (India) directly to allow the Punjab government to avail the lower price of Rs 162 per dose available to the global community.
The state has so far received 29,36,770 doses of Covishield (including 3.5 lakh doses meant for AFMS and Central healthcare workers) and 3.34 lakh doses of Covaxin.
Out of the available stock of vaccine till April 22, a total of 25.48 lakh doses of Covishield and 2.64 lakh doses of Covaxin had been utilized, leaving the state with only 2.81 lakh doses of Covishield and 27,400 doses of Covaxin in its stock.
The Health Department had on April 22 written to the Union Health Ministry seeking additional supply of 10 lakh doses of Covishield, to be made available on priority to enable the state to meet its immediate requirement.