AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government will try to bear the cost of coronavirus vaccination "as far as possible" so that people get it free, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said on Saturday.
Patel, who also holds the Health portfolio, said the state is fully prepared to administer vaccination to the priority groups as soon as doses are received from the Centre.
"So far, the Central government has not fixed any cost for the coronavirus vaccine. We provided treatment and medicines to lakhs of coronavirus patients free of cost in the state," he said.
"We have been discussing this (free vaccination) with the chief Minister from time to time that as far as possible, we shall not let the citizens bear the cost of vaccination," he told reporters here.
Patel said preparations for the first phase of vaccination had been completed in the state and the list of priority beneficiaries was also ready with the government.
Patel's assurance comes after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted that details of how the beneficiaries will be vaccinated were being finalised.
"In 1st phase of #COVID19Vaccination free #vaccine shall be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that incl 1 crore healthcare & 2 crore frontline workers Details of how further 27 cr priority beneficiaries are to be vaccinated until July are being finalised," Vardhan tweeted during the day.
On Friday, an expert panel of India's Central Drug Authority recommended granting permission for restricted emergency use of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield, being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, paving the way for the roll-out of the first COVID-19 shot in the country in the next few days.
The SEC recommendations have been forwarded to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for final approval.
Patel was here to inaugurate new facilities at the trauma centre of Ahmedabad civil hospital, including 21 operation theatres, a central sterile services department and a skin bank.