Covid vaccine shortage has forced health authorities in Telangana to stop vaccination programme on Saturday and Sunday.
On a day when phase 3 of Covid immunization for those between 18-44 years was scheduled for a roll out across the country, Telangana had to stop vaccination even for those above 45 years.
Director of public health and family welfare Dr G. Srinivas Rao announced that there will be no Covid vaccination programme on May 1 and May 2 in the Government Covid Vaccination Centres (GCVCs) across the state, due to non-receipt of vaccine doses.
This is the second time that Telangana has been forced to stop vaccination due to shortage of vaccine. Earlier, the programme was put on hold for a day on April 18.
The state government on Friday stopped supply of Covid vaccines to all private hospitals, who were administering vaccines to individuals above 45 years.
The health department asked the managements of private hospitals to return unused vials of Covid vaccines, if any.
Officials said this has been done in line with the guidelines from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy.
The private hospitals will now have to procure Covid vaccine doses directly from vaccine manufacturers.
Meanwhile, the health officials said due to vaccine shortage the rollout of third phase of vaccination may be delayed further.
The state has a population of 1.72 crore in 18-44 age group and it needs nearly 3.6 crore doses of vaccine to complete the programme. The officials say Telangana has daily vaccination capacity of 10 lakh people but lack of sufficient supplies from the Centre is hindering the vaccination.
Telangana government has already announced free vaccination for all the people. However, there is still no clarity as to how the state plans to achieve this.
The department has drawn plans to vaccinate 6.6 lakh people daily through 5,000 centres under the third phase of vaccination but this will depend on supplies.
The state government has been demanding the Centre to ensure sufficient and uninterrupted supplies of vaccine doses for smooth implementation of the programme.
Health minister Eatala Rajender said two day ago that the Centre should have planned production and supplies or allowed states to import vaccines from other countries.
He said if Telangana had got the required doses, vaccination of the entire 3.3 crore beneficiaries in the state could have been completed within three months.
“We are now in discussions with Bharat Biotech and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories for vaccine supplies,” he said.
Telangana state so far received 49 lakh doses from the Centre with the latest stock of 3.5 lakh received on April 29.
On April 30, the authorities administered 1,65,069 doses including 27,765 second dose. With this state has so far given 48,82,830 doses to healthcare workers, frontline workers and priority age group of above 45 years.