The government said on Tuesday that starting April 1, all those above the age of 45 years can get vaccinated against Covid-19 without any pre-qualifications.
Till now, only medical professionals and frontline workers, those above the age of 60 and those above the age of 45 with specific co-morbidities, were eligible for covid-19 vaccination.
The government’s decision to expand the vaccination drive which kickstarted on January 16 comes at a time when India is witnessing a steep hike in coronavirus infections in many states across the country.
“It has been decided that from April 1, the vaccine will open for everybody above 45 years of age. We request that all those who are eligible should immediately register and get vaccinated,” Union minister Prakash Javedkar said.
The minister said adding based on scientific advice the decision has been taken that the gap between Covishield doses has also been extended up to eight weeks, from its earlier four weeks, as this is more effective.
“Vaccination is going on well and at a fast pace. Around 4.85 crore people have already got vaccinated. Many of them have got their second doses too. 32.5 lakh doses were administered yesterday in 24 hours. In February, our daily average was 3.77 lakh, it surpassed 15 lakh in March,” the minister said.
“Would urge everyone above 45 years to get themselves registered and inoculated,” the minister said adding that adequate doses of vaccines are available at present in India. “We are proud that both of India’s vaccines are successful. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself took Covaxin. So you can take any vaccine. And take a doctor’s advice regarding the gap between the two doses,” Javadekar said.
The vaccine is the only shield against Covid-19, the minister said, adding, “We will have to continue using masks for another one year and a half. Similarly, we will have to wash hands, maintain social distancing. Vaccination is the only shield.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday released a fresh set of guidelines, asking states to increase the proportion of RT-PCR tests, strictly implement the ‘test-track-treat’ protocol and accelerate the pace of vaccination.
Also, on Tuesday, given the current Covid-19 situation, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extended suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger flights till April 30. These restrictions will, however, not be applicable to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA.
Apart from this, the DGCA said international scheduled flights “may be allowed on selected routes” by the competent authority on a cases-to-case basis.