Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his televised address on June 7 said the central government would provide Covid-19 vaccines free of cost to all adults from later this month. The centre would also take over the task of vaccination from state governments.
“It has been decided that from June 21, all adults over the age of 18 will be vaccinated free,” Modi said.
According to the prime minister, central government would buy 75% of the vaccine from manufacturers along with bearing 25 per cent of the states’ quota and giving it free to the state governments.
“This arrangement will be implemented in the coming two weeks. In these two weeks, the central and state governments will together make necessary preparations according to the new guidelines,” Modi added.
The policy change in vaccination has come days after the Supreme Court of India unleashing strong criticism over the liberalised vaccination policy of the Centre. As per the liberalised policy, state governments get only 25% of the vaccine quota and the free vaccination was available only for those aged above 45-years-old.
On June 2, Supreme Court had observed that the vaccination policy of the central government, that does not provide free vaccination for those coming under the age group of 18 to 44 years-old as “arbitrary and irrational.”
Due to the changing nature of the pandemic, we are now faced with a situation where the18-44 age group also needs to be vaccinated, although priority may be retained between different age groups on a scientific basis. Hence, due to the importance of vaccinating individuals in the 18-44 age group, the policy of the Central Government for conducting free vaccination themselves for groups under the first 2 phases, and replacing it with paid vaccination by the State/UT Governments and private hospitals for the persons between 18-44 years is, prima facie, arbitrary and irrational”, read the observation of court.