Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief ministers are likely to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in the second phase of the drive, sources said.
The first round of the vaccination drive started on January 16 after earlier in the month granting emergency use approval to two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin.
In the first phase, healthcare workers like doctors and nurses and frontline workers like armed forces, police and sanitation staff are being administered the jabs on government’s cost.
The phase two will include people above the age of 50 and those below the age of 50 with serious health complications, who are required to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 disease on priority.
The second phase is also likely to include politicians and PM Modi could be the first person to be given the jab in that phase.
A tentative prioritisation for vaccination was discussed at a meeting held between Prime Minister Modi and the state chief ministers on November 24 and has been communicated to state governments, said people familiar with the development, reported.
A 50-year plus grouping appears to be an expansion of the earlier category that was under discussion. So far, the government officials had been saying this category would comprise ‘senior citizens’ and the ‘elderly’, and it was expected that this group would consist of people over the age of 65.
“In India, co-morbidities like hypertension, diabetes and coronary heart diseases occur much earlier than in western populations. So, prioritising the 50 plus population is the right approach,” Public Health Foundation of India president K Srinath Reddy was quoted as saying.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier this month approved Oxford Covid-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.
This is the world’s largest vaccination programme covering the entire length and breadth of the country.