The Centre on Friday instructed the states to first vaccinate those who are yet to receive their second dose of the Covid vaccine before beginning to inoculate the 18–44 age group, the Hindustan Times reported.

“From the side of the Union Health Ministry, we requested all the states/ UTs to prioritise the beneficiaries of the second dose and ensure the timely completion of the recommended vaccination schedule,” Additional Secretary (Health) Arti Ahuja said during a media briefing.

The government also asked states to utilise supplies of vaccine through the central quota in a 70:30 ratio for the second and first dose, respectively. “Regular review of coverage of Covid-19 vaccination drive is to be undertaken to formulate and implement strategy for such prioritisation,” Ahuja added, according to the Hindustan Times.

The new directives came amid crippling shortages of vaccines that has slowed down the inoculation drive in the country.

Under the new vaccination policy that came into effect from May 1, the Centre is supplying vaccines to the states on the basis of a set formula and are being only be used for those who were eligible for the vaccines in the first two phases: health care workers, front line workers and all adults over the age of 45. For vaccinating the 18-44 age group, states have to purchase vaccines directly from the manufacturers.

However, several beneficiaries above 45, who took their first shot, are facing difficulties in securing a vaccination slot for their second dose on time, according to The New Indian Express. As per the government guidelines, the recommended gap between two doses of Covaxin is four to six weeks and for Covishield, it is four to eight weeks.

Several states have also had to delay the third phase of vaccination as enough supplies are not available to handle the burden of inoculating nearly 60 crore citizens in the 18-44 age group who became eligible to receive the jab from May 1.

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