MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday questioned the central government's decision to charge for COVID-19 vaccine in phase-II that began on March 1.
In phase-II, people over the age of 60 and over the age of 45 with co-morbidity can get inoculated at the designated centres by paying Rs 250.
In a press conference, Prithviraj Chavan said that in phase-I, the union government had procured 1.65 crore doses of vaccine at a cost of Rs 210 per dose.
"According to the budget speech delivered by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on February 1, 2021, Rs 35,000 crore has been earmarked for the vaccination drive. In this amount, at the cost of Rs 210 per dose more than 1.5 billion doses can be procured which can inoculate 75 crore population twice covering almost the entire adult population of India. If budgetary provisions are made then, why charge common people?" Chavan asked.
Comparing to the vaccine drives in countries like the United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK), the Congress leader said, "Large countries such as the USA, UK or Canada are providing free vaccines to their citizens either through insurance scheme or by budgetary provisions."
He further demanded that all beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (Aayushman Bharat) must be given a free COVID-19 vaccine.
"I demand all beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (Aayushman Bharat) must be given free COVID-19 vaccine. Unfortunately, despite lofty budgetary announcements and India being the largest supplier of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Modi government is digging into the common man's pocket."
The price of the coronavirus vaccine at private facilities in the country has been capped at Rs 250 per dose, which includes Rs 100 as a service charge, according to central government sources.
Last Friday, the health ministry had said that the COVID-19 vaccination will be free of charge at government vaccination centres. The beneficiary will have to show a photo ID document for proof of age (preferably Aadhar card or EPIC card) and a certificate of co-morbidity (if required).
Those taking the COVID vaccine at any designated/empanelled private health facility will have to pay a pre-fixed charge.
States and UTs were explained the simplified process of registration, which shall be through three routes: Advance Self-Registration: In this, the beneficiaries will be able to self-register in advance by downloading the Co-WIN 2.0 portal and through other IT applications such as Aarogya Setu etc.