Thiruvananthapuram: A day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced free vaccines for everyone in the State, several enterprising Keralites have gone a step further, voluntarily donating the price of the vaccine to the CM's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).
Social media has been flooded with screenshots of donations to the CMDRF.
“This is what is special about Kerala and its people, we come together in times of distress,” Pinarayi said pointing out that till 4:30pm on Thursday Rs 22 lakh have been donated by those who received the vaccine.
Pinarayi had on Wednesday said the government would provide the COVID-19 vaccine free of cost for everyone in the State.
The statement came a day after prime minister Narendra Modi announced that state can procure vaccines directly from the manufacturers.
The Serum Institute of India announced a price of Rs 400 per dose for its COVID-19 vaccine 'Covishield' for State governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals.
This pricing is much higher than the Rs 150 charged for vaccines sold to the central government.
"Vaccines will be provided free of cost for everyone in Kerala. We don't have the habit of changing our stance like others. We had announced free vaccines in the State," Pinarayi had said taking a dig at the prime minister.
A social media user who goes by the handle, Red Indian, tweeted that "Vaccine is a right. But Since the union government has abdicated its responsibility" and the Kerala government has decided to take it up, "I, as a citizen, am contributing to the #CMDRF, Kerala."
"Keralites, since the central Govt has shamelessly passed all the burden to the states' shoulder on the price of vaccines, it's time for us to stand with our state and support it."
"Support everyone around you and please donate to CMDRF, irrespective of your political inclinations," a handle which goes by the name @Advaidism, tweeted.
Another user posted that he was sure that the Kerala government would provide vaccine free of cost for him and so he was donating the money for two doses of vaccine - as per Serum Institute of India's price - to Kerala CMDRF.
"This is the least I can do. I urge all my friends to do the same," the user tweeted.
A Keralite, who is settled in the UAE posted, said he received the vaccine free in that country.
"My parents in Kerala has taken the vaccine and I donate that amount to Kerala CMDRF as a small support to the government. #FreeVaccinetoAll," he tweeted.
The campaign has gained momentum as Keralaites have taken it up as a protest against Centre's vaccine policy.
Most of the users are posting images of the donation certificate of Rs 800, the cost for two doses of vaccine. Some have posted images of the contribution made for a higher amount as the cost of vaccines for their whole family.
The SII had, in a statement, said, "Fifty per cent of our capacities will be served to the Central government's vaccination drive and the remaining 50 per cent will be for the State governments and private hospitals."
(With inputs from PTI)