Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala has already initiated steps to purchase vaccines directly from the manufacturers, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday during his customary sunset briefing.
A team consisting of the chief secretary and health finance secretaries of the state will lead this endeavour.
He said that even as the state has approached the Centre to provide free vaccines, "since time is precious, we have set the ball rolling to procure vaccines".
"Even while we wait with expectancy for a positive reply from the Centre, if we wait endlessly, we might not be in time to get the supplies from the manufacturers. If it comes from the centre, well and good.
"The vaccines that the state government procures will be for use in state-run health centres, while the private sector can buy their requirements," he added.
Kerala has over 1.65 crore people in the above 18 age group who will be eligible to receive vaccine shots from May 1.
The vaccination drive will be held in two to three phases and priority will be given to those suffering from serious ailments, Pinarayi said.
The chief minister had on Wednesday announced that the vaccines will be provided free of cost for all in Kerala.
The statement came day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that states can buy vaccines from the manufacturer's directly at a higher price.
Pinarayi had written a letter to Modi, saying the additional burden of purchasing the vaccines would strain the State's finances, hence the vaccines should be distributed free of cost.
The vaccines would be given to only through online registrations.
Pinarayi also said that those who have already received the first dose need not panic and rush for the second dose as studies have proven that the second shot can be taken till the 12th week.
All party meet on Monday
With Kerala witnessing a massive surge in COVID-19 cases, the State government on Thursday decided to call an all party meeting on April 26.
The meeting will be online and held at 10:30am, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here.
Kerala reported 26,995 new cases on Thursday, in the highest single day surge so far, taking the total infection count to 13,22,054 and those under treatment to over 1.5 lakh.
As many as 6,370 have been cured of the disease, pushing the total recoveries to 11,60,472.
The toll has climbed to 5,028 with 28 additional deaths.