BHUBANESWAR: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya on Sunday made it clear that states can procure Covid vaccines to meet the requirement of precautionary doses. Responding to media queries on the Centre’s response to Odisha’s demand for Covid booster, he said the vaccine doses available with the government have already been supplied to the states and UTs as per their indent raised earlier.
“If the state government wants fresh stock, it can procure the vaccines as per the requirement and administer necessary doses to its people,” Mandaviya told reporters here. This apart, the minister said, permission has also been given to the private sector for undertaking Covid vaccination and people, who want to take precautionary doses, can visit private hospitals to get jabbed.
Mandaviya was here on a three-day visit to the state to attend the fourth convocation of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar, the central institute body meeting (CIB) of all AIIMS, a review of Talcher fertiliser plants and a few other events.
While the Ministry of Health had been supplying free Covid vaccines to people above 12 years at government vaccination centres, the inoculation has been stopped in Odisha since November 29 as there is no stock of vaccines. Odisha is among some of the big states and UTs that are facing a complete vaccine stockout. More than two crore people in the state are yet to take booster shots.
The growing scare of a fourth Covid wave and increasing public demand for precautionary doses have prompted several states to reach out to the Centre for vaccines. But there is no decision yet on whether the Centre is going to procure more stocks and supply to the states like before.
Reacting to Mandaviya’s response, Health and Family Welfare Minister Naba Kishore Das said the state government is ready for any eventualities and if required it can procure Covid vaccines to meet the requirement. “But let the Ministry of Health reply to the state government’s letter seeking additional vaccine doses. We have not received any response from the Centre. If they can not supply, let them give it in writing,” Das told media persons.
On December 23, state’s Health secretary Shalini Pandit had written a letter to Union Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan urging support for the recommencement of Covid precaution doses in the state. Das had also written a separate letter to Mandaviya seeking a supply of Covid vaccines for the left-out people.