Amidst a surging second wave of Covid-19 the centre has announced a “liberalised and accelerated” Phase 3 strategy for vaccinations against the coronavirus under which all adults will be eligible for inoculations from May 1. Here’s everything you need to know about the much-awaited phase 3 strategies for the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccine inoculation drive.

What will happen in phase 3 of the vaccination drive?

More people will be covered under the ongoing nationwide Covid-19 vaccination programme, which started on January 16, 2021. From May 1, everyone above the age of 18 will become eligible for Covid-19 vaccines.  Amid the ongoing surge in the number of daily cases, experts and various state governments had urged the Centre to relax the age restriction for administering the Covid-19 vaccine. However, the shortage of vaccines that are being reported from different parts of the country remains a matter of serious concern as we are heading towards the next phase.

What changes in phase 3 of vaccination drive?

What happens to the ongoing vaccination drive?

Vaccination will continue as before in the government of India vaccination centres free of cost to the eligible population – healthcare and frontline workers and all people above 45 years of age. The second doses of healthcare workers, frontline workers, and population above 45 years, wherever it is due, will be administered on a priority basis.

All vaccinations will be part of the ongoing National Vaccination Programme and should follow all existing guidelines. It will also be captured on the CoWIN platform along with the stocks and price per vaccination applicable in all vaccination centres, will comply with Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) management and reporting, digital vaccination certificate and all other prescribed norms.

Will the Centre stop allocating vaccines to states?

No, the central government from its share will continue to allocate vaccines to states/UTs based on the criteria of the extent of infection (number of active Covid cases) and performance (speed of administration). However, wastage of vaccines will also be considered in this criteria and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above-mentioned factors, the state-wise quota will be communicated to the states in advance.

What will be the price of the Covid-19 Vaccine?

As per the Phase 3 vaccination policy released by the Centre, vaccine manufacturers have to declare the price at which they will sell the doses to state governments before May 1. The private vaccine providers can transparently declare their self-set vaccination price.

Following this, the Serum Institute of India (SII) has announced prices for its Covishield vaccine. SII has said the vaccine would be sold at a price of Rs 600 per dose to private hospitals and Rs 400 per dose to state governments. However, this does not mean that the maximum you will pay is Rs 600 for a shot from a private hospital or Rs 400 at a state government hospital. This is because additional charges (for logistics and tax) can be added to the Rs 400 or Rs 600 quote.

Covaxin, on the other hand, will cost ₹600 per dose for the states and ₹1,200 per dose for private hospitals. Meanwhile, US drug major Pfizer said in a recent statement that it will offer its Covid-19 vaccine in India at a ‘not-for-profit’ price for the government’s immunization program. It costs about $20 (around ₹1500) per jab in the US.

When does the registration for phase 3 vaccination drive begin?

The registration for getting the COVID-19 vaccine shot for all those above 18 years of age will begin from Wednesday (April 28, 2021) on the CoWin portal. According to reports, the CoWin portal will be made ready for 18 plus beneficiaries by April 24.

Earlier, reports had erroneously claimed that the registration would begin from April 24. However, the Centre has clarified that the registration would start only on April 28 through the CoWIN platform or Aarogya Setu app. The registration process and documents to be submitted to get the jab remains the same. However, there will be no walk-in registrations for this age group of people.

What are the challenges in front?

During the past few weeks, there were several reports on vaccine shortages from different parts of the country. At a time when we are finding it difficult to meet the vaccine requirements of the priority population, opening up the vaccination drive to the entire population above the age of 18 certainly looks a bit confusing.

There’s also a possibility of people gathering in huge numbers outside the vaccination centres as the country opens up the third phase of vaccination drive to a larger section of the population. The concerned authorities will have to keep an eye on the mass gatherings and should take the necessary steps to avoid such situations.

The way ahead…

A week ago, Israelis stepped into the streets without masks for the first time in a year, a key milestone as the country vaccinated its way out of the coronavirus nightmare. The vaccination of close to five million people (almost half their population) has sent Israels Covid-19 caseload tumbling from some 10,000 new infections per day as recently as mid-January, to around 200 cases a day.

There’s no better advertisement for the effect of mass vaccination! Let’s hope that the next phase of the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccine inoculation drive that’s all set to begin from 1 May will have similar effects in India as well.

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