States will be playing a facilitatory role by aggregating demand and vaccination capabilities of private hospitals

The central government’s policy of free vaccination for all has begun on Monday under which the government will provide free COVID-19 vaccine to all Indian citizens above 18 years of age.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made this announcement earlier this month and said the central government would take over the nationwide vaccination drive, and the Centre would procure 75 percent of vaccines and give them to states for free distribution to all citizens above the age of 18.

The center will also handle the 25 percent vaccination that was with states till now under the liberalised plan announced earlier.

During a briefing on Friday, the health ministry had said states would be playing a facilitatory role by aggregating demand and vaccination capabilities of private hospitals in the state and ensuring the administrations of vaccinations.

"There will be a systematic flow of vaccines to the private sector as well. I am hopeful that in this way, there will be a lot of energy in the participation of the private sector and vaccination sites will increase," VK Paul, Member, Health of the Niti Aayog said.

From June 21, the Centre will provide free vaccines to states, PM Modi had said.

"Whether it is the poor, the lower middle class, the middle class, or the upper-middle class, under the central government programme, everyone will get free vaccines," the Prime Minister said.

Private hospitals will continue to buy the remaining 25 per cent and inoculate those willing to pay for their jabs. They can't, however, charge more than Rs 150 as a service charge per dose over the fixed price of the vaccine, the PM said.

The Union Health Minister had stated that the maximum price that can be charged per dose by private vaccine centres for the three vaccines currently available in the country - Rs 780 for Covishield, Rs 1,410 for Covaxin and Rs 1,145 for Sputnik V.

Meanwhile, India continues to see a dip in newly added Covid-19 cases. The country has recorded 53,256 new coronavirus infections, the lowest in 88 days, in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,99,35,221.

The number of active Covid-19 cases in the country further reduced to 7,02,887. The death toll climbed to 3,88,135 with 1,422 fresh fatalities, the lowest in 65 days, the Health Ministry said.