CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday announced that it will offer free Covid-19 vaccines at government hospitals to everyone above the age of 18. People in this age group will be eligible for the vaccine from May 1. The announcement came on a day the State touched a new high of 12,652 fresh Covid cases and 59 deaths.
The government said free vaccination camps will be conducted on a priority basis for construction workers, migrant labourers, those working in markets, those who run small businesses, transport corporation staff, government staff, school and college teachers, and auto and taxi drivers.
Other industries, private firms, hotels and restaurants will be “encouraged” to tie up with private hospitals to get their staff vaccinated, a release from the government said. The vaccine won’t be administered free of charge at private institutions.
So far, 13 per cent of people between the ages of 45 and 59, and 18 per cent of those above 60, have been vaccinated, the government said. The free vaccination drive for people in these age groups will continue, with a focus on districts with a large number of cases. The government also appealed to the public to make use of the vaccination drive and help the State achieve herd immunity.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu’s overall tally stands at 10,37,711 and the toll, at 13,317. Forty-four per cent of the new cases are from Chennai and its neighbouring districts. A total of 1,15,653 samples were tested on the day. According to a media bulletin issued by the Directorate of Public Health, among the deceased, eight did not have comorbid conditions. Among those who succumbed was a 102-year-woman from Nagapattinam who had comorbid conditions.
State has enough stock of ventilators, says Chief Secretary
Amid the spike in cases, Chief Secretary Rajeev Ranjan held a Covid-19 review meeting with senior officials on Thursday. In a press statement, he said that the State procured and has enough stock of ventilators, high-flow nasal cannula, medicines, and oxygen beds. The State has 54,417 Covid beds in government Covid hospitals, and of them, 32,942 are oxygen beds.
Besides these 6,879 ICU beds have been readied. At Covid Care Centres, 38,426 beds are ready, Rajeev said. The State also has 6,517 ventilators, and 2,440 high-flow nasal cannula. Orders also have been passed to obtain more at the earliest, the release said. The State also brought down the proportion of vaccine wastage to five per cent, and a target of three per cent has been set. The Chief Secretary also ordered that the results of swab tests should be conveyed within 24 hours, the release said.