India rolls out free Covid vaccines for all adults; govt aims to inoculate 1.1 billion by year-end
India opened up free vaccinations to all adults in an attempt to bolster its inoculation drive on Monday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off a muted International Yoga Day hailing the practice’s “protective” properties against the virus.
The country’s vaccination drive has significantly slowed in recent months due to a shortage of jabs and hesitancy, even as it battled a vicious surge in cases in April and May that overwhelmed the healthcare system in many places.
Case numbers have since fallen sharply and the authorities have again relaxed many restrictions, sparking fears of another wave.
The government had expanded the vaccine rollout to include all adults aged below 45 on May 1, but states and private hospitals had to procure and buy the shots themselves for the younger age group, leading to confusion and shortages.
But New Delhi later changed tack, announcing it would procure 75 per cent of vaccine supplies and distribute them to states so that they can inoculate people for free.