he Center has decided to give free booster shots of the Covid vaccine to all in the 18-59 age group at government vaccination centers in a bid to boost the uptake.
Free Booster Shots
As part of the government’s Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the center has planned to facilitate this under a 75-day special drive from July 15.
Further, the Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, said the Information and broadcasting minister, Anurag Thakur.
In a tweet, PM Narendra Modi said, “Vaccination is an effective means to fight Covid-19. Today’s Cabinet decision will further India’s vaccination coverage and create a healthier nation,”.
Moreover, this decision is in line with the government’s continuous efforts to increase uptake of precaution doses in the wake of rising cases of Covid-19 in many states.
Increase Uptake Of Booster Dose
The PM Narendra Modi had urged people to increase uptake of booster or precaution doses while insisting on following Covid protocol, including hand hygiene and use of masks, to prevent further spread of infection, last month.
Considering the numbers, only less than 1% of the target population of 77.1 crore in the 18-59 age group has been administered the precaution dose.
The figures have improved for elderly people as 25.84% of the 16.8 crore eligible population aged 60 and above as well as healthcare and frontline workers have received the booster dose, so far.
Prior to this, the Center is administering precaution doses free of cost to only those above 60 years and health and frontline workers.
Although several states have announced free booster doses for all adults above 18 years.
Still, it has failed to pick up so far with only around five crore booster doses given till Wednesday 7pm.
In that, 2.7 crore doses have been given to those above 60 years and around one crore frontline workers and nearly 60 lakh health workers.
So far, 73 lakh precaution doses have been administered in private hospitals to adults between 18 and 59 years.
Extra Layer Of Safety
“The decision will further strengthen India’s fight against Covid-19 and add an extra layer of safety! I urge all those eligible to get their precaution dose at the earliest,” said Mansukh Mandaviya, health minister while responding to the Cabinet decision.
Aligned with the same goal, the health ministry has reduced the gap between the second and precaution doses, from nine to six months following a recommendation by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization.
Besides this, the government has also commenced a door-to-door vaccination campaign in order to accelerate the pace of vaccination and encourage booster shots.
It all started when the country began administering precaution doses of vaccines to all above 18 from April 10 this year.