The Indian Medical Association on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open up coronavirus vaccination for all citizens above 18, amid the surge in infections in the country.

The organisation also suggested the imposition of “a limited period of continuous lockdown”, especially for “non-essential areas like cinema halls, cultural and religious events”.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray had also requested the Centre to lower vaccination age amid the rise in cases.

The doctors’ association said that vaccination is the only “evidence-based resource” to contain coronavirus cases and pave way for the development of herd immunity. “At present, we are vaccinating the population above 45 years,” the association said. “In view of the rapid spread of the disease, we suggest that our vaccine strategy needs to be geared up with immediate effect on war foot.”

The Indian Medical Association said that walk-in vaccination should be available for all citizens free of cost, at their nearest inoculation centres. It suggested the active inclusion of private family clinics in the vaccination drive, along with private hospitals

The association also urged the government to form district-level vaccine task force teams with public and private participation. The Indian Medical Association said it will actively participate in this plan.

The doctors’ association also suggested that vaccination certificates be made mandatory for entering public places and receiving products under the public distribution system.

The Indian Medical Association said that it was pained to see the second wave of the pandemic touch record highs, despite the government’s extraordinary containment measures. “Due to the emergent complacent, mass gatherings without masks, noncompliance of Covid-appropriate behaviour, and the deterrent mutations in the virus has surpassed our efforts to emerge as a fast-spreading second wave,” it said.

The doctors’ association assured the government of its support. “Zero tolerance against the non-compliance of Covid-appropriate behaviour, augmentation of infrastructure, ,moral support and enthusiastic engagement of frontline workers are the key factors needed at this moment,” it added

India on Tuesday recorded 96,982 coronavirus cases, taking the overall tally to 1,26,86,049. The toll went up to 1,65,547 after 446 deaths were registered in the last day. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will hold a meeting with the health ministers of 11 states on Tuesday evening to discuss the steps being taken to contain the surge in coronavirus cases.