NEW DELHI: Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday lashed out at Maharashtra and some other state governments for their statements about the Covid vaccination drive.
In a strongly-worded statement, Vardhan said such “irresponsible statements” are “deplorable attempts” by these states to distract attention from their own failures.
He also accused them of spreading panic among the people.
“In recent days, I have seen with growing dismay a number of irresponsible statements from some State government functionaries in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Vardhan said.
The health minister said he is compelled to set the “record straight” since such statements have the potential to mislead the public and spread panic.
“Most concerning of all are the statements being made by a section of political leaders asking to open up vaccination to everyone above the age of 18, or to drastically lower the minimum age criteria for vaccination eligibility,” he said.
He was referring demands by both Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray urging the Centre to lower the age limit for vaccinations.
Responding to the demands, Vardhan said the vaccination strategy has been drawn up after extensive deliberations and consultations in partnership with all state governments.
He stressed that the primary aim of vaccination is to reduce mortality among the most vulnerable people and enable the society to beat the pandemic.
“Accordingly, the world’s largest vaccination drive was launched in India with the first recipients being our healthcare personnel and frontline workers. Once this had progressed to a certain level, vaccination was opened up to further categories and is currently open to everyone above the age of 45 years,” he said, adding that the vaccinations are free of cost at government facilities.
He said that since the supply of vaccines remains limited, the government has no option but to prioritise.
Presenting some facts, Vardhan said the states in question are yet to even inoculate all healthcare and frontline workers.