Amid Covishield shortage, Covaxin to be used for 18-44 age group in J&K

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With Astra-Zeneca-Oxford’s CoviShield vaccine running grossly short, J&K Government has decided to procure the indigenous Covaxin to kick-start the 18-44 year age group vaccination in J&K on 02 May.

A day after J&K Government announced that vaccination for 18-44 age group here will be delayed and will not start on 01 May as anticipated, an interim arrangement has been made by J&K Government, a senior healthcare official said. He said J&K Government has placed procurement orders for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin now as the supply of CoviShield was “hard to come by” any time soon. “The Covaxin doses will arrive on 01 May and J&K will start vaccination for this age group on 02 May,” he said.

Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo said the vaccines will arrive on 01 May. “Registrations will be open from 30 April onwards. We will be starting vaccination of this age group on 01 May afternoon only, if all goes well,” he said. He said the Government was in the process of procuring CoviSheild as well. “However, it may take some time as there is a country-wide shortage right now,” he said. Regarding the second dose for the people who took the first dose of CoviShield, Dulloo said, “They can get vaccinated between 6-8 weeks when we have the supply. There is no fixed date for it.”

The 18-44 year age group vaccination will commence in Srinagar and Jammu cities, the senior official said. “Vaccination of this phase will be carried out in phased manner. Other districts will be covered later,” he said.

On Friday, the vaccine supply had run dry in many districts of Kashmir. No vaccines had been administered in Anantnag and Srinagar districts. Amidst rising cases and growing uptake of vaccine in the past few weeks, the sudden shortage has put masses through distress, a senior healthcare administrator said.  Director General Immuzation,  Health and Family Welfare, Dr Saleem ur Rehman said 1.5 lakh doses of Covaxin have been ordered by J&K. “The first consignment will leave Hyderabad manufacturing unit on Saturday itself,” he said.