The Centre on Tuesday released revised its guidelines for the coronavirus vaccination drive, saying allocation of doses to states and Union Territories will depend on their population, infection burden and the pace of inoculation.

This came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Centre would provide vaccines free of charge to beneficiaries in the 18 to 44 age group from June 21. The government will buy 75% of the vaccine produced by companies, including 25% assigned to states. Private hospitals will, however, continue to buy the remaining 25% of the vaccine stock. This means some beneficiaries will have to pay for their vaccines if they choose to get inoculated at non-government medical facilities.

The Modi government took charge of procuring vaccines and providing them to states after facing severe criticism from health experts and the Supreme Court of India.

In the revised guidelines, the Centre warned states that vaccine wastage will have a negative impact on allocation.

It also said advance information will be given to states on supply of vaccine doses. “States/UTs should similarly, further allocate doses well in advance to districts and vaccination centers,” the Centre said. “They should also put in the public domain the information about the above availability at district and vaccination center level, and widely disseminate it among the local population, maximising the visibility and convenience of citizens.”

The government has also advised states to first vaccinate healthcare workers, followed by frontline workers, citizens above 45 years and those above 18 years, in cases where second dose is due. “Within the population group of citizens more than 18 years of age, states/UTs may decide their own prioritisation factoring in the vaccine supply schedule,” the guidelines said.

India’s coronavirus vaccination drive has struggled to keep pace with the demand since the fourth phase of inoculation began on May 1 amid a devastating second wave of infections. Under the earlier policy, the Centre took responsibility for only sourcing 50% of the doses for what has been categorised as the vulnerable population – those above 45 years, healthcare and frontline workers. This essentially means that vaccinations for all those below 45 years had be paid for by the states or by the citizens themselves.