India is going through a pandemic-induced crisis of an alarming proportion. The country is recording over three lakh new Covid positive cases almost every day. The collapse of the healthcare system because of the pandemic has been for the world to see.
Amidst this huge crisis, the only ray of hope for Indians is mass vaccination in the country to tide over this second tsunami-like wave of the coronavirus. The Central government of India has allowed everyone above the age of 18 to get vaccinated May 1 onward. But this step has come as too little too late and even now, there is a catch to it: the citizens between the age group of 18-44 will have to pay for their own vaccine.
What complicates this situation more is that the Centre has said that citizens in the age bracket of 18-44 years would be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccination at any private vaccination centre and would need to be registered on the CoWIN portal starting April 28.
In a letter to the states on April 23, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said: “Citizens in the age group of 18-44 years shall be eligible to receive vaccination on payment from any of the private CVCs (Covid Vaccination Centres).”
If those between age of 18-44 have to get vaccinated in private centres, unless the state government makes provision for them to get vaccinated in state government-approved public facilities, then the price that the citizens will have to pay for the vaccine would be enormous (Rs 600-1200)
The two Indian vaccine manufacturers (Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India) have already fixed the price at which they would be selling the vaccines to private hospitals. Covishield will be sold to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose while Covaxin will cost Rs 1200 per dose at private hospitals.
If private hospitals procure the vaccines at these high price, it is clear that they will sell it further at even higher prices to those between 18-44. While many state governments have already announced that they will provide the vaccine to their residents for free, others would be discriminated simply on the basis of the states they belong to.
I strongly urge the Government of India to remove all caps and prices on vaccines and make one single rule, and that is free vaccination for all irrespective of the age or profession of the person. If we want to tide over this pandemic, there is no other way than free vaccination for all in India. I request you to sign my petition and raise your voice for free vaccination for all.