Vaccine for those 45 and above from Apr 1

New Delhi, Mar 23
People who are 45 and older can be vaccinated from April 1, the Government said today, ramping up the Nationwide inoculation drive at a time Covid cases have surged in many States. “I appeal to every citizen who is 45 or above to register for vaccination,” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, announcing the expansion of the drive that started in January.
At present, only citizens who are above 60 and those over 45 with other illnesses are allowed to get vaccination.
“This decision has been taken by Cabinet on the basis of the advice of the coronavirus Task Force and experts,” said Mr Javadekar.
According to the Minister, 4.85 crore people have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine and 80 lakh have received the second dose.
On the Centre's letter to States yesterday to increase the gap between two doses of Serum Institute of India's Covishield – developed by Oxford-Astrazeneca – Mr Javadekar said doctors would prescribe the right time for the second dose.
“The second dose has to be between four and eight weeks. Doctors will decide when it is best to take the second shot,” the Union Minister said.
India has seen a spike in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks, with the daily rise staying above 30,000 since March 18.  The number of cases with the UK, South Africa and Brazil variants of the Covid virus across the country is 795.
Though new coronavirus infections dropped by 13 per cent to 40,715 today, the active caseload has recorded an increase for the 13th day in a row, according to the Union Health Ministry.
Vaccinations rolled out on January 16 with healthcare workers and February 2 onwards, frontline workers were also declared eligible.
Mr Javadekar was asked on Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's appeal to the Centre to widen the scope of vaccinations to younger people, given the spike in cases of the UK variant in his State.
The Union Minister said he was “not a health expert and did not know the nuances of the UK variant”.