A month after the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare initiated mass COVID-19 vaccination for people above the age of 60 and those with co-morbidities above the age of 45, vaccination has been extended to every one above the age of 45 beginning April 1. The beneficiaries who have already received one dose, will also start receiving messages for the second.
Announcing that people above the age of 45 formed 88% of the total number of COVID-19 deaths, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, discussed why it was imperative that the COVID-19 vaccine be administered to even those who did not have any co-morbidities. These people are accounted for in the government's goal to vaccinate close to 30 crore of its population in 2021.
Every beneficiary is expected to register themselves through the Co-Win website and should have either a PAN card or Aadhar card when they go to the vaccination center- whether public or private in their vicinity. If the beneficiary, chooses a public facility, they will be vaccinated for free. But if they choose a private centre, they will have to pay ₹250 for each shot.
To facilitate increasing the vaccine coverage, the Centre has also decided that vaccination will be conducted every day irrespective of gazette holidays in the month of April.
The government intends to identify areas where the vaccination coverage has been low amidst an increase in cases and wants to take corrective action to improve the same. It has also requested private vaccination centres to take more proactive measures to understand and review their capacity utilisation to avoid wastage of vaccine.
With increasing reports of States declaring that they are running out of vaccines, the Health Ministry has repeatedly stated that there is no shortage of vaccine. As cases in India are again witnessing a surge, the government is also slowing down its pace in exporting Covishield as well as Covaxin. To further decrease wastage, the government has asked vaccination centres and the States to review their stocks for over-stocking or under-stocking and address their gap areas.
How To Get The Second Dose Of Vaccine
People above the age of 60 and those above 45 with co-morbidities started receiving the vaccine from March 1, 2021. According to the earlier COVID-19 vaccine guidelines prepared by the Ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research, people were expected to receive the second shot four weeks after the first.
After studying the existing literature and emerging research which suggested that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, known as the Covishield in India, is more effective when the duration between the two shots is prolonged, India changed its guidelines. Beneficiaries will receive the message for scheduling the second shot of the vaccine 6-8 weeks after the first.
The citizens will receive a message on their registered mobile number which will remind them to schedule the second shot. People can either pre-schedule a shot or walk-in after 3pm at the vaccination centre where they had received the first shot. They can only take the shot at the same place where they had received their first. If the citizen wants to change their vaccination centre, there are provisions for it on the website.
Once they receive the second shot, the government will send a downloadable link which will have their fully vaccinated certificate. This certificate will be similar to the provisional certificate people received after their first shot.