The government today rejected calls to open vaccination to all, a demand by at least two Chief Ministers, saying this as not the time to reduce focus on the pandemic.
“The approach is that those vulnerable to mortality need to be covered soonest. The aim to protect the most vulnerable. The aim is never to vaccinate whoever wants, but always on whoever needs,” said Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray are among those who have called for opening up vaccination to more age groups.
“When we talk about opening vaccination to all, our focus reduces on controlling the pandemic. Did you hear any country that is vaccinating less than 45,” VK Paul, Member-Health, Niti Aayog, questioned.
“We have to focus on Covid-appropriate behaviour and containment measures. When the time comes to open it to all, then we will.”
Dr Paul said opening up inoculations had to be seen from a scientific perspective. “We are lucky about our vaccine production pace, but we can’t trivialize it. So far no research has shown whether herd immunity develops at so and so pace…The answer is not yet sorted out. But we do know that all vaccines being given today reduce mortality and severe disease. That is the priority.”
The officers referred to guidelines in countries like America, Australia and UK for phase-wise vaccination. “UK had 9 different groups in its phases. Switzerland is vaccinating only those above 65,” Dr Paul said, adding, “When our history is written our deaths will be the most important count.”