While BJP leaders and several chief ministers hailed his announcement, opposition leaders said alleged that the government has repeatedly changed its vaccination policy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement in a televised address to the nation and said the Centre will procure 75 per cent of the total production of the vaccine doses and provide them free to the states. No state government would be spending anything for vaccines.
The liberalised vaccination policy had come into effect from May 1 in which all people above 18 years were made eligible for vaccination. The policy entailed the Centre getting 50 per cent vaccine supply and 50 per cent to be procured under ‘other than Government of India channel’.Many Chief Ministers had over the past few days urged the Centre to procure vaccines and supply to them due to procurement constraints faced by them.
The Prime Minister said that both the Centre and states will start working to new guidelines in two weeks.
He said that the system of 25 per cent vaccines being procured directly by the private hospitals will continue. State governments will monitor that only 150 rupees service charge is levied by the private hospitals over the decided price of the vaccines.
The Prime Minister said that crores of people have got free vaccines and 18 years segment has been added to this.
BJP chief JP Nadda hailed PM Modi’s announcement that vaccination will be provided free to all above 18 and said the BJP-led government is with every Indian in the fight against COVID-19.
In a series of tweets following the address to the nation by the Prime Minister in which he made the announcement, Nadda said the country is undertaking a successful vaccination journey.
“We express our heartfelt gratitude for providing free vaccine to all the countrymen. Modiji’s government is with every citizen in the fight against Corona. It is our resolve to provide free vaccines to the poorest of the poor,” Nadda said.
He said wherever the country has faced a crisis, PM Modi has led from the front.
“Under his guidance, the country has undertaken a successful vaccination journey and is getting enabled.”
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said party leaders had been repeatedly saying that there has to be universal free vaccination for every Indian above 18 years of age.
“The government repeatedly joked about it, rejected it, and ignored it. PM Modi Government has changed its policy three times in six months,” he said.
Surjewala said there was opposition to the liberalised vaccine policy announced by the Centre.
“Now, that the people opposed it again, Congress Party opposed it and Supreme Court bitterly reprimanded them and asked them to file an affidavit, they have taken a third summersault and now said- in government facilities across the country, people above 18 years of age will be given free vaccination by Government of India,” he said.
Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel said the state had earlier announced to provide free vaccination to people of the state.
“Centre woke up after being pulled up by Supreme Court. Putting blame on states is unfair as they had already asked the Centre for free vaccination.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury alleged that the central government was tying to defend its “dubious discriminatory vaccine policy” by passing the buck on to state governments.
NCP leader Nawab Malik said that the Prime Minister took the decision after Supreme Court earlier this month raised questions on the government’s vaccination policy and asked it to file an affidavit.
“It’s a late but much-needed step. People have seen the government failing in fight against COVID. It is an attempt to damage control,” he said.
AAP MLA Raghav Chadha said that the Centre “has finally woken up” after “constant gruelling by SC”.
Government sources, however, said that the plan for centralized free COVID-19 vaccination was presented to the Prime Minister on June 1 on the completion of one month of the decentralized model and the Prime Minister gave an in-principle approval in the meeting.
They said that the groundwork for centralized free vaccination began right on June 1 and it was announced on Monday.
The government had implemented liberalised vaccination policy on May 1 under which 50 per cent of vaccines were to be procured in “other than the Government of India channel”.