Amid shortage, Maharashtra diverts vaccine for 18-44 years to those over 45

The Maharashtra government has diverted covid-19 vaccines procured for inoculating those between the age of 18 and 44 to give the second dose to the beneficiaries above 45 years, state health minister Rajesh Tope announced on Tuesday.

“The decision has been taken in the wake of the short supply of vaccines for 45-plus beneficiaries by the central government,” Tope said while addressing reporters. He added that the efficacy of the vaccine is largely affected if the second dose is not given within the stipulated time.

Last Friday, during an interaction through Facebook Live, Tope had hinted that to manage the vaccination drive with the limited supply and to control crowds at vaccination centres, Maharashtra government was likely to defer vaccination for the 18-44 age group.

Over 2.1 million people above the age of 45 were due for their second dose, and of this 1.6 million are for Covishield while only 35,000 doses of Covaxin were available, he added.

Maharashtra started the third phase of the vaccination drive from 1 May to inoculate people between 18 and 44 years of age despite facing a shortage of doses.

Tope also said patients suffering from mucormycosis or black fungus disease 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 died due to this infection in the state so far. We are making special wards for these patients,” Tope said.

He also said that a decision on extending the lockdown in the state will be taken in the Cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

Maharashtra has imposed lockdown-like restrictions since the beginning of April and these are due to end on 14 May unless extended further.

Maharashtra on Monday registered 37,236 new cases of the coronavirus disease (covid-19) and 549 related fatalities, taking the caseload and death toll to 5,138,973 and 76,398 respectively.

Monday’s case count in Maharashtra has been the lowest since 30 March when 27,918 cases were recorded.

The capital city Mumbai also saw a significant drop in its daily covid-19 disease tally with 1,782 new cases, taking the caseload to 677,412. The city’s death toll has climbed to 13,855 as of Monday.

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