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INDIA NEWS: Vaccination of those above 50 three weeks from now

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) India’s union government will begin vaccination drive for around 27 crore Indians above the age of 50 three weeks from now, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday.

“Three weeks from now, the government will start giving doses of coronavirus vaccines to 27 crore persons above the age of 50,” he said at a press briefing here. An expert group on vaccination will discuss how to pay for the doses for those above 50, he added.

The vaccination for frontline workers began earlier this month.

Commenting on the private healthcare sector’s role in the vaccination process, he said that such facilities and workers were already a part of the drive.

“During emergency use authorizations (EUA), it is the government’s responsibility to keep things under control; open market sales are not part of the EUA,” he added.

The Minister said that no new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in 188 districts of the country in the past seven days.

Vardhan emphasized the importance of social distance and appropriate healthcare behavior amid the pandemic despite the falling number of corona cases in the country.

“It is crucial that people continue to follow COVID-appropriate behavior which I had called a social vaccine, along with the real vaccine,” he quipped.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said that a new flagship program — Prime Minister Atmanirbhar Swastha Bharat Yojana — has been announced in the Union Budget 2021-22. “The Budget refers to a holistic approach toward health and healthcare. Allocation to the health sector for 2020-21 is 1.8 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product,” the Ministry added.

The Union government has prioritized vaccination of 30 crore Indians, dividing them into three categories — one crore healthcare workers, 2 crore frontline workers, and 27 crore general populace above the age of 50.

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