Covid: No vaccine for the young in Sikkim from May 1
The Sikkim government on Thursday said the vaccination drive for people in the age-group of 18 and 44 could not be rolled out from May 1, the scheduled date for its nationwide launch, for want of adequate vaccine in the state.
The government also extended the closure of all government offices, including public sector undertakings, till May 7. The offices were to have reopened on May 1 after remaining shut for three days.
Pempa T. Bhutia, the director general-cum-secretary of the Sikkim health department, said the drive was not possible since the process of procuring more vaccines was still on. “The government has proposed to procure 66,0000 doses of Covishield and have placed the order with Serum Institute (of India), Pune. Out of them, 15,0000 doses are requested to be delivered in May. The vaccination drive for this age group will start as and when we receive this consignment.”
The central government has decreed that from May 1 onwards, the state governments will have to procure the Covid vaccines directly from the manufacturers. Till now, the Centre had been buying the vaccines and supplying the same to the states.
The states will also have to buy the vaccines at a higher price than the Rs 150 per dose the Centre was shelling out.
The Serum Institute has fixed the price for a dose of Covishield at Rs 300 for the states and Rs 600 for private hospitals.
Bharat Biotech, the other Indian Covid vaccine maker, announced it would charge Rs 600 from the states and Rs 1,200 from private hospitals for a dose of its Covaxin.
Bhutia said even though the vaccination drive would be carried out later for the 18-44 age-group, online registration, which opened on Wednesday, would continue. “There is no facility of onsite registration for this age-group,” he said, adding that the ongoing vaccination of health workers, frontline workers and those above the age of 45 would, however, continue uninterrupted.
According to the data available with the Centre, over two lakh doses of the Covid vaccines have been administered in Sikkim on 57 sites till Thursday evening. The estimated population of the Himalayan state is around seven lakh, but there are tens of thousands of workers and students from outside staying in the state.