In an effort to tackle the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, the Delhi government has directed private hospitals and nursing homes to offer Covaxin to only those eligible for a second dose in the 18-44 years age group.
“Directions have been issued to all government COVID-19 vaccination centers to administer Covaxin only to those people who are eligible for receiving the second dose of vaccination in respect of the age group of 18-44 years during the month of June 2021, or until further orders,” the Delhi Disaster Management Authority order stated.
Those found in violation of the directions will be penalized as per the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, the Indian Penal Code and the Epidemic Act and other applicable laws. The order comes days after the Delhi High Court ordered governments in Delhi and the Centre to present communications between them regarding people in the 18-44 age group who have not been administered the second dose of Covaxin so far.
“Keeping in view the fact that the second dose of Covaxin is, as per the existing protocol, required to be administered within 4-6 weeks of the first dose, which the GNCTD admits that it may not be in a position to do; it is evident that the failure to administer the second dose would compromise and frustrate the very exercise of administering the initial dose in the first place,” the court noted. “This is, therefore, a question of serious and urgent public concern.”
Senior government officials pointed out that the decision was taken in light of a severe shortage of vaccines for the 18-45 age group, which has already led to temporary suspension of 368 vaccine sites for more than two weeks now. As per government data, around 150,000 doses of Covaxin have been administered to people in the 18-45 age group, all of whom have their second doses due in June.
“It shows that there is a demand supply gap. The government has to ensure people do not miss on their second dose of Covaxin. Hence, this step was necessary. The gap can widen if the vaccine centres in the city continue administering first doses of Covaxin without assurances of future supplies,” officials said.