Karnataka awaits central guidelines for free Covid booster shot
Move as part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’
BENGALURU: While the Union Health Ministry has announced that precautionary dose would be given free of cost for those above 18 years of age, for 75 days from July 15 as part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the State Government is awaiting central guidelines to get started, said Dr Arundathi Chandrashekar, Mission Director of State, National Health Mission, who is also in charge of the vaccination drive.
She said the ministry will hold a video conference with all States on Thursday, where details related to the free vaccination drive will be made clear. While the Union health ministry has approved vaccination for kids below 12 years, the drive will start after the Centre sends guidelines, she added.
So far, only 8.68 per cent or 42,49,707 people above 18 years of age, of the target population of 4,89,16,000, are vaccinated with the precautionary dose in the State. Among 4,08,74,700 adults between 18 and 59 years who are vaccinated with the second dose, only 0.96% (3,93,383) is vaccinated with the booster dose. Of 74,05,367 double-vaccinated adults above 60 years of age, only 35.84 per cent are vaccinated with the booster dose.
“The booster dose for those above 60 years of age is already free of cost. But the booster dose for those between 18 and 59 years of age is available only at private hospitals, and is charged, so there was some reluctance for a booster dose in this age group. Since it is going to be free of cost for 75 days, it is expected to boost precautionary dose vaccination among those between 18 and 59 years,” health officials said. On Wednesday, Covid cases in Karnataka jumped to 1,231, including 1,124 in Bengaluru. The day’s positivity rate touched 4.78 per cent in the state, and 6.6 per cent in Bengaluru.