Kerala seeks 5m vaccine doses to meet demand
TRIVANDRUM: Kerala, one of the most infected states batling COVID-19, has asked the federal government to supply five million more doses of vaccine to meet growing demand.
Kerala is the first state in India to report the virus infection as early as January last year but the pandemic still remains uncontrolled here.
Currently, Maharashtra, Utar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Karnataka and Kerala account for 65 per cent of India’s active cases.
Experts feel massive vaccination is the only option before the state to contain the spread of the disease.
The vaccination drive was launched on Jan.16 inoculating healthcare and frontline workers.
The second age-appropriate category, senior citizens and those aged above 45 years with comorbidities started receiving the vaccine on March 1.
All who are over 45 years of age are eligible for free jabs since April 1 but the health authorities have been forced to shut many vaccination centres due to acute shortage.
“We have so far received 60.84 doses of vaccines ( from the federal government) and the stock is exhausting fast,” health minister KK Shailaja told reporters here.
“To finish the mass vaccination campaign (for the eligible categories), we need five million doses more.”
The state demanded both the Covishield, the Indian brand of Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine, and the indigenous Covaxin in equal numbers.
The state has also made it compulsory for inbound passengers to carry a recent COVID negative certificate or get tested on arrival.
The minister also warned of the possibility of oxygen cylinder shortage as the cases are going up fast requiring hospitalisation.
“We have also requested for increased supply of oxygen cylinders ( from the federal health authorities,” the minister said ater a review meeting.
“We decided to step up preventive measures and intensify the Crushing the Curve campaign against the second wave. Tests have also been increased.”
She said 11 per cent of the state’s population have already been infected with the virus and the rest of the people should take all precautions against chances of contracting it.
She also claimed that Kerala was far ahead of other states in batling the pandemic and vowed to continue the fight more vigorously.
“As the testing numbers have increased, the number of patients needing hospitalisation will also go up. We are prepared to deal with such a situation,” she said.