Mumbai: Maharashtra government on Tuesday decided to suspend the COVID-19 vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group amid a shortage of jabs. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope told media persons on Tuesday that the government has decided to prioritise the second dose of the 45 plus age group people with the remaining stock of vaccines.
The minister stated that the move, however, is temporary. “There is a dearth of vaccines, hence we're considering holding off vaccination drive temporarily for 18-44 age group. 2.75 lakh vaccine doses are left for this age group that'll be now used for 45 years and above group. Administering the second dose is a priority,” Tope said on Tuesday.
Tope also said that the efficacy of the vaccine is largely affected if the second dose is not given in a specified time. To avoid such health problems, the state government has decided to divert three lakh vials (of Covaxin) purchased for the 18-44 age category for the people above 45 years. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan recently conducted a meeting with health secretaries of all the states and union territories asking the states to address the needs of large number of people stranded for their second dose.
On the other side, Health Minister also informed that COVID-19 patients suffering from mucormycosis or black fungus will now be treated free-of-cost in the state under Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana.
“Over 2,000 cases have been reported and 8 people have lost lives amid this infection in the state so far. We are also making special wards for these patients,” Tope said.
When asked about the lockdown, he replied that that a decision on extending the lockdown like restrictions in the state will be taken in the Cabinet meeting scheduled on Wednesday. Lockdown-like restrictions have been enforced in Maharashtra since the start of April and these are due to end on May 14 unless extended further.
Stringent restrictions were enforced in Maharashtra following an unprecedented rise in the spread of COVID-19 cases during the ongoing second wave of the pandemci. As part of the lockdown measures, the MVA government allowed the purchase of essential food items only for four hours every day.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra has been reporting around 60,000 COVID-19 cases daily.
Compared with 549 deaths on Monday, the state fatalities went up to 793, taking the toll to 77,191, while the number of new infections, though remaining below the 50,000 level, increased from 37,236 on Monday to 40,956, taking the tally to 51,79,929.