Everyone above the age of 18 will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine from May 1, the central government announced on Monday as it liberalised the vaccination drive to allow states, private hospitals and industrial establishments to procure the doses directly from manufacturers.
The decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Under the third phase of the vaccination drive commencing next month, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50 per cent doses to state governments and in the open market.
Manufacturers would have to make an advance declaration of the price for 50 per cent supply that would be available to the state governments and in the open market before May 1, 2021, an official statement said.
Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments, etc would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers.
Private Hospitals would have to procure their supplies of COVID-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50 per cent supply earmarked for entities other than those coming through the central government channel.
The private vaccination providers would need to transparently declare their self-set vaccination price and the eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, that is everyone above the age of 18, the statement added.
Second dose of all existing priority groups -- healthcare workers, frontline workers and population above 45 years, wherever it has become due, would be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders.
The strategy will be reviewed from time to time.
"Prime Minister said that the government has been working hard for over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible of time. He added that India is vaccinating people at world record pace and we will continue this with even greater momentum," it added.
The decisions came as India's total tally of COVID-19 cases crossed the grim milestone of 1.5 crore with a record single-day rise of 2,73,810 infections and the death toll increased to1,78,769 with a record 1,619 daily new fatalities, according to data updated Monday morning.
Also, the cumulative vaccine doses administered across the country has reached12,38,52,566, according to the government data.