Coronavirus Vaccine Drive: On the second day of the second phase of the vaccination drive, several prominent leaders, including Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and former J-K chief minister Farooq Abdullah, received their first anti-COVID jab on Tuesday. The development comes as the expanded vaccination drive is gaining momentum across India with 50 lakh people registering themselves on the Co-WIN portal. Also Read - India Records 184372 COVID Cases, 1027 Deaths In 24 Hours; Active Cases Cross 13 Lakh Mark

2,08,791 people vaccinated: Addressing a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said as many as 2,08,791 people who are over 60 years of age or are within the age bracket of 45-60 years with specified comorbidities have been vaccinated since the second phase began on March 1, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several union ministers, and chief ministers also took the vaccine. At this time, the vaccines are being administered free of cost at government hospitals and health centres, while up to Rs 250 per dose will be charged at private health facilities. Also Read - Amid Kumbh Mela Fervour, Haridwar Logs Over 1,000 Coronavirus Cases in 2 Days

Prominent leaders vaccinated: The prominent leaders who took jabs on the second day include Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, actor-politician Kamal Haasan, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja, her cabinet colleagues E Chandrasekharan and Kadannappally Ramachandran, Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan and his wife Suprava Harichandan. Also Read - Lockdown in Haryana Won’t be Imposed Anytime Soon But COVID Guidelines to be Followed Strictly, Says State Govt

Controversy in Karnataka: However, a fresh controversy erupted after Karnataka Agriculture Minister BC Patil, 64, tweeted that he and his wife had taken the vaccine at his residence in Haveri district, instead of going to a designated hospital. The Union Health Ministry said it has sought a report as it is not allowed in the protocol.

In the meantime, the Centre said that over 1,48,55,073 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the two phases till 1 PM on Tuesday, out of which 67,04,856 healthcare workers have been given the first dose of the vaccine and 25,98,192 healthcare workers have been administered the second dose. Besides, 53,43,219 frontline workers have been administered the first dose of vaccine till now.

Permission to private hospitals: In another development, the Centre on Tuesday allowed private hospitals to give COVID vaccine if they adhere to the laid down norms and also asked the states and union territories to utilise the optimum capacity of private medical facilities empanelled under three categories.

No buffer stock of vaccines: The states and Union territories were also urged not to store, reserve, conserve or create a buffer stock of the COVID-19 vaccines. At an official review meeting with the states, the Centre reiterated there is no shortage of the vaccines and hence, adequate vaccine doses should be allocated to the COVID Vaccination Centres(CVCs).

The Centre urged the states and the UTs to ensure adequate allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to all hospitals, government as well as private, for the entire duration for which vaccination sessions have been planned.

The states and UTs were asked to regularly collaborate with the private hospitals to ensure that their optimum capacity for vaccination is utilised. The Health Ministry said that the private vaccination centres should have effective crowd management protocols in place, along with facilities for seating, water, proper signage etc. They should also ensure adherence to a COVID-appropriate behaviour among the beneficiaries.