States are asking for vaccine-eligibility age to be lowered, but the real solution is open-market availability of vaccines
For those who can’t afford open-market prices, the government can roll-out free vaccination at both private and public-funded facilities.
Delhi has joined Punjab and Maharashtra in asking the Centre to allow Covid-19 vaccination for the youth. The national capital—Punjab and Maharashtra—have been labelled ‘states of concern’ by the Centre, in view of the second-wave surge in new Covid-19 cases. With AIIMS director Randeep Guleria having stated that the second-wave seems to be primarily raging among ‘the young’, the states’ call for allowing vaccination for persons as young as 21 years old would seem justified. Delhi has also asked the Centre to allow vaccination centres to function 24×7, which, at present, are functioning 12 hours a day.
If the Centre were to agree to the states’ pleas, chances are the vaccination cover could go up. But, this would still be just a partial solution, since leaving vaccination to the open market—with no price caps on vaccines—would allow people of all ages for whom the vaccines have been proven to safe and effective to get inoculated. Private hospitals with adequate infrastructure for monitoring/managing AEFI can make the service available for as many hours as they choose.
For those who can’t afford open-market prices, the government can roll-out free vaccination at both private and public-funded facilities. The Centre needs to bear in mind the fact that Covid-19 will keep coming in waves unless there is significant vaccine coverage within the country. And, if vaccine-resistant variants develop, the controlled distribution would truly have proved disastrous.