NEW DELHI: The government has earmarked Rs 5,000 crore in the next fiscal just for Covid vaccination of 15-17-year-age group and precautionary dose for senior citizens, Finance Secretary T V Somanathan said, emphasising more money will be allocated as needs arise.
The government in the last Budget had provisioned Rs 35,000 crore towards Covid vaccination for the 2021-22 fiscal.
The amount has been upped to Rs 39,000 crore in the revised estimates.
Asked about the reason for reduced outlay for 2022-23 fiscal, Somanathan explained that while the outlay in the last budget was towards vaccinating full adult population, the next fiscal's allocation needs to be seen in the context of 'precautionary doses' and jabs to children in the age group of 15-17 years.
"Last year the provision was for two doses of vaccination for 100 per cent of adult population. The allocations are made based on the evolving health policy. Currently the health policy is booster for certain segments -- frontline, above 60 years and vaccination for 15-17 years. That amount has been catered to. Rs 5,000 crore has been earmarked," he told PTI.
The nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive started on January 16, 2021.
The new phase of universalisation of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from June 21, 2021.
As part of the nationwide vaccination drive, the Government of India has been supporting the states and UTs by providing them COVID vaccines free of cost.
Over 75 per cent of the country's adult population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
More than 164.36 crore vaccine doses have been provided to states and Union Territories as a part of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive.
Vaccination for children of 15-17-age group has begun from January 3, while 'precautionary dose' for 60 years and above began from January 10.
Somanathan further said: "As policies are evolved, the budgets will follow. But Budget will not precede the policy".
The secretary said there has been an increase in health outlay for next fiscal to Rs 83,000 crore.
In the current fiscal, Rs 82,921 crore has been pegged in the Revised Estimates (RE), up from and Rs 71,269 crore in the Budget Estimates.
Also expenditure on health research too has seen an increase to Rs 3,201 crore in the next fiscal, from Rs 3,080 crore in the RE of current fiscal.