Will Odisha give free jab to18-45 age group?

| | BHUBANESWAR
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Will Odisha give free jab to18-45 age group?

Sunday, 25 April 2021 | SUDARSHAN CHHOTORAY | BHUBANESWAR

With the country all set to vaccinate 18-45 age group from May 1 and at least 10 States having already announced Covid jabs free of cost for their population in the Government-run vaccine centres, the question now being raised is will the Naveen Patnaik Government also declare free Covid vaccination for this age group? As the Opposition parties are mounting pressure on the State Government to announce free vaccines, the mandarins in the third floor so far have kept mum waiting for the right moment.

 They have become apprehensive about the cost attached to the vaccines, as the Government, presently facing financial strains, will have to bear a huge financial burden.

According to a conservative estimate to vaccinate a huge 42 percent of its population, which comes around 1.93 crore, the Government has to incur an expenditure of at least Rs 2,000 crore (including the cost of vaccine, transport, storage cold chain and vaccine centre). The cost of vaccine has been pegged at Rs 400 per shot by the Serum Institute for Covishield vaccine, for State Governments. When a senior State Government official was asked about what’s up in mind of the Government, he said the Chief Minister would announce the Government’s decision at the right time. However, both opposition BJP and Congress have demanded that the CM should announce for free jabs for all without delay.

While PCC president Niranjan Patnaik urged the CM to announce for free vaccine for the State’s population, working president Pradip Majhi argued that since a sizeable section of State’s population is SC, ST and poor, they need to be provided vaccine free of cost. “What’s stopping the Odisha Government to declare free vaccination for all in our State,” Niranjan asked.

He further appealed to the CM to do it without a second thought. Earlier in the week, BJP State general secretary Prithiviraj Harichandan had demanded free jab for the 18-45 age group. Former bureaucrat and Bhubaneswar BJP MP Aparajita Sarangi sought to know the Government’s intention in this regard.

 “When Bihar, Assam and Uttar Pradesh have announced free vaccines, why cannot Odisha? Why is this delay in this decision?” She tweeted on Friday. As the registration for the massive vaccination drive starts from April 28 in a dedicated website CoWin of the Union Government, it is to be seen what decision the Government of Odisha takes to deal with this massive challenge and call for free jabs.

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