New Delhi: The next phase of the Coronavirus vaccination drive will kick off across the country today for people in the age group 18-44 years even as many states said they may have to put the plan on hold for want of the supply of doses for the eligible lot. On April 19, the Union Government had announced that everyone above the age of 18 will be eligible to get a vaccine against Covid-19 from May 1. Many states since then said they won’t be able to start the vaccination drive for everyone due to shortage or unavailability of doses.Also Read - People in 18-44 Age Group Can Choose COVID-19 Vaccine as Per Preference: CoWin Chief RS Sharma

Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry said they did not have adequate stocks of vaccines to meet the expected rush of immunity seekers, even as the country’s Covid graph, including in southern states, has been mercilessly on the upward trend.

Due to the uncertainty over the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, the Tamil Nadu government on Friday deferred its rollout of the massive vaccination drive for the 18-44 years age group on May 1 as originally planned.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state can’t decide anything on its own when there is a shortage. “It has become difficult to decide on vaccination,” he said, apparently hinting the inoculation drive may not take off on Saturday.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said the inoculation drive for people in the 18 years plus group will be delayed as the vaccine has not been supplied yet.

Andhra Pradesh too expressed its inability to implement the third phase of inoculation due to shortage of vaccine doses.

The Telangana government had said on Thursday that it may not be able to start the vaccination drive from Saturday as it is hit by shortage of vaccines.

Facing shortage of Covid-19 vaccines, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday deferred Phase 3 of the vaccination for the 18-45 age group, slated to begin on May 1, while also announcing that vaccination at private health facilities will remain suspended from Saturday.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said, “We have not yet received the vaccines from the companies. It is hoped that the vaccines will arrive in a day or two, following which, we will begin the vaccination drive.”

Appealing to people not to come for vaccination on Saturday, Kejriwal said, “I appeal to all citizens to not queue up at vaccination centres before our announcement as this might lead to violation of social distancing and create a law and order situation.”

‘Over 1 cr Covid vaccine doses available with states, UTs’

The Health Ministry on Friday said that more than one crore doses are still available with the states and Union Territories (UTs) while nearly 20 lakh additional doses will reach them in the next three days. The ministry said that so far nearly 16.33 crore vaccine doses (16,33,85,030) have been provided to the states and UTs free of cost till Friday morning and of this the total consumption including wastages is 15,33,56,503 doses.

Sputnik V vaccine to land in India Today

The country will start receiving consignments of Russian Sputnik V vaccine doses from today onwards. India is expected to receive 5 million doses of the vaccine by June. According to media reports, around 150,000 to 200,000 doses of the vaccine will be delivered by early May and another 3 million doses by May end.