termed the Central Government’s policy of paid vaccinations by state governments as arbitrary and irrational, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday announced that all citizens above the age of 18 years will get free vaccines that will be procured by the Centre.AYS after the Supreme Court
“No state government would be spending anything for vaccines. Till now, crores of people got free vaccine, now 18 years segment will be added to this. Government of India will provide free vaccines to all the citizens”, PM said.
PM Modi clarified 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.
PM Modi also assured the nation that the supply of vaccines would increase in the coming days. “Work on producing an intranasal vaccine for Covid is also happening,” he said in a nationwide televised address.
On May 31, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat observed that the “the policy of the Central Government for conducting free vaccination themselves for groups under the first two phases, and replacing it with paid vaccination by the State/UT Governments and private hospitals for the persons between 18-44 years is, prima facie, arbitrary and irrational”,
The court had also directed state governments to confirm on affidavit whether they would provide vaccines free of cost. If they had indeed decided as such, then, as a matter of principle, this policy must be filed in the court so that the population within their territories can be assured of their right to be vaccinated for free at a state vaccination centre.
It also directed the Centre to clarify how the 35000 crores earmarked in the Union budget for procuring vaccines had been spent so far and why they could not be utilized for vaccinating persons aged 18-44 years.
The court also summoned all the documents and file notings on the Centre’s vaccination policy.
Chief Ministers of many non-BJP states had also written to PM Modi to centrally procure the vaccines and distribute them to the states.