After the states exercised their powers and imposed lockdowns at their own level to contain the second wave of the coronavirus, the Centre has now asked them to allow walk-in vaccines for people in the 18-44 age group to protect the younger adults from the virus. The decision to widen the ambit of the vaccination programme has been prompted by the digital divide as people who did not have access to the Internet or a smartphone were finding it difficult to book appointments for the jab. This will apply only to the government vaccination centres for now. That governments have realised that checking the spread of Covid-19 and reducing its severity need micro-managing the fight is evident from places like Panchkula in Haryana and Mohali in Punjab where drive-through vaccinations have also been arranged for the eligible beneficiaries after due verification.
Vaccines for the younger adult age group became available from May 1, but the demand soon surpassed supplies, exhausting stocks and halting the drive in several states. In Delhi alone, 400 inoculation centres have been shut down because of the unavailability of vaccines and talks with some companies have hit a bottleneck because of their refusal to deal directly with the states instead of the Central Government. While the availability of vaccines is expected to become broad-based in the country in the days to come, making them reachable by avoiding shortages will have to be ensured. The inoculation schedule for some vaccines has already been readjusted, resulting in confusion.
The vaccination programme against the coronavirus does need a fillip to protect lives. But it should be well organised to ward off another surge of the deadly virus. For this, the Centre and the states should work in tandem. The onus will also lie on the people to minimise risks by taking all necessary precautions.