Everyone over the age of 18 can sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine from Saturday, April 24, 2021, said Ram Sewak Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority The Hindu. However, appointments will only be made once hospitals have published their schedules on CoWin, the goal site for coordinating the vaccine drive.
On Monday, the Center announced that everyone over the age of 18 will be eligible for a vaccine from May.
Estimates for India’s adult population range from 800 to 900 billion and discount those over 45 and the 130 million with at least one dose – atleast 500-600 million are expected to register for doses of on Saturday. Mr Sharma said the Center was “upgrading infrastructure” to accommodate these numbers.
Unlike the ongoing vaccination campaign, where the Center is the only vaccine buyer and supplier to States, its introduction in May will also include doses purchased independently from States by vaccine manufacturers. It could also include photos of Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine authorized by the Central Drug Regulator.
However, Bharat Biotech and the Indian Serum Institute are fulfilling the existing commitments to the Center and have said that they cannot ramp up supply significantly before July. It is also unclear when the first doses of Sputnik V will be available.
Under the current arrangement, beneficiaries can sign up for a vaccination slot and choose a center closest to them. There is also an option for on-the-spot registration. Vaccines at private facilities are currently charged at ₹ 250. Those in government centers will continue to receive the vaccine for free, the Center said on Thursday. Going forward as well, the Center will continue to purchase half of the approved doses of Covaxin and Covishield.
SII has said it will charge States that enter into agreements for them ₹ 400 for a dose and private hospitals at ₹ 600 per dose. It is currently selling, or fulfilling orders worth 210 million doses of the vaccine at ₹ 150-180 per dose. The prices to be quoted by Covaxin and Sputnik V are not yet known.