Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday said more than two crore additional COVID-19 vaccine doses are being made available to states this month and they have been asked to vaccinate all school teachers on priority before Teachers' Day on September 5.
Schools across the country were closed in March last year ahead of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of novel coronavirus infection.
The Centre had allowed the reopening of schools as per the COVID-19 situation in October last year. While several states began partial reopening of schools, there was a complete closure again in April when an aggressive second wave of COVID-19 hit the country.
With an improvement in the COVID-19 situation again, several states have begun reopening schools now even as concerns have been expressed over the staff and teachers not being completely vaccinated.
"In addition to the plan to provide vaccines to every state this month, more than 2 crore vaccine doses are being made available. We have requested all states to try to vaccinate all school teachers on priority before Teachers' Day, which is celebrated on September 5," Mandaviya said in a tweet in Hindi.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting on Wednesday with all states and Union Territories to review the progress of the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
At the meeting, the states were advised to focus on enhancing second dose coverage as well as immunization of school teachers and staff, both government and private.
States were apprised on prompt utilisation of Emergency Covid Response Package (ECRP) funds and also advised to ensure compliance of Covid-appropriate behaviour and other precautionary measures ahead of the upcoming festival season.
Bhushan stressed on having a definite district-level plan to increase the coverage of the second dose.
In line with the announcement made by the Union health minister, more than 2 crore additional vaccine doses will be dispatched to the states from August 27 to 31 to vaccinate school teachers and non-teaching staff on a priority basis, an official release said.
States and Union Territories may use Unified District Information System of Education data and co-ordinate with the state education departments, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Sangathan and others providing a necessary fillip to this vaccination programme, it said.
With the 50 per cent fund of ECRP-II package already disbursed to the states and UTs, they were advised to process procurement and supply orders immediately to procure equipment, machinery, beds and drugs in a time-bound manner.
At the meeting, the states were also requested to make a month-wise expenditure plan and oversee corresponding physical progress on the ground.