Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written to the Centre asking it to allow all adults to receive vaccinations as the country struggles to contain a second surge in coronavirus infections, ANI reported.
Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that in his letter to the Narendra Modi government, Kejriwal had made two main requests. First, vaccination should be allowed to all adults and not just target groups. Second, it should be allowed at camp settings and not just at healthcare facilities, Jain said.
India started its vaccination drive on January 16, by initially administering doses only to healthcare and frontline workers. On March 1, the drive was expanded to senior citizens above the age of 60 years and those above 45 with co-morbidities. On April 1, it was widened to all above the age of 45.
So far, over nine crore vaccine doses have been administered across the country. Besides Delhi, several other states have also criticised the central government for restricting India’s immunisation drive.
Kejriwal’s request comes at a time when Odisha, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, have complained of vaccine shortages. The Union health minister, in turn, accused state governments of making “deplorable attempts” to spread panic.
Jain suggested there is no shortage of vaccines in Delhi and said that the inoculation drive was going smoothly. “We received some vaccines yesterday [Wednesday],” he added. “We have stock for four to five days. We have demanded more and we will get it.”
The Delhi minister did, however, hit out at Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for blaming states for not doing enough to curb the spread of Covid-19. In his remarks on Wednesday, Vardhan had said that the Capital had fallen short of its vaccination targets.
“Vaccinations have been 30% to 40% less in central government hospitals, that is why Delhi’s average has come down,” Jain said in response to the Centre’s allegations, according to NDTV.
Jain added that at a time when the Centre and states should be working collectively to contain the pandemic, the central government was shifting the blame on them.
“Even if Delhi’s vaccination level was 75% and that in central hospitals was 30%, that is not the issue,” he added. “The issue is that we vaccinate people as soon as possible. There can be no fighting in that.”