The third phase of the free inoculation drive for those aged between 18 and 44 would be delayed in Tamil Nadu as the supply of vaccines is being delayed even after placing order, said senior officials. Meanwhile, at least one private hospital in city has announced the commencement of the drive on Saturday.
“We are not vaccinating people aged 1-44 from May 1,” said Dr TS Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.
Earlier in the day, Health secretary J Radhakrishnan said though the State had placed an order for 1.5 crore doses, supply was not possible by Saturday, delaying the drive that was expected to start on May 1. “We will not receive the requested number of doses by May 1 and thus, it is not possible to start the vaccination for 18-44 age group,” he said. Of the order placed, only a number of doses has been accepted for initial supply, Radhakrishnan said. “This is not for Tamil Nadu alone, but even for other States,” he said, adding that vaccination for those aged above 45 would continue.
However, facing a crippling shortage of vaccines, officials are struggling to sustain even the existing drive. From Union Health Ministry data and the vaccination report released on Friday night by the State Health Department, Tamil Nadu has a stock of only 3.32 lakh vaccine doses, including both Covishield and Covaxin. That is, at nearly one lakh doses a day on an average, the State has a stock that would last only for three more days. Tamil Nadu has so far received around 61.82 lakh doses of the two vaccines, and has administered 58.54 lakh doses as on Friday. Meanwhile, due to the shortage in the supply of doses, the civic body will not commence inoculating persons above 18 years of age from May 1, G Prakash, Chennai Corporation Commissioner, said. He added that the existing stock would be given to those above 45 years of age, who are yet to get their shots.
Apollo Hospitals to roll out drive:
Apollo Hospitals has confirmed rolling out vaccination for those aged between 18 and 44 years from May 1. “The vaccination program will begin with limited quantities and will be ramped up in the weeks ahead,” said the Apollo group in a statement.