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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: In a bid to make up for the shortages of Covaxin for the age group of 18-44 in Bhubaneswar, the Health Minister of Odisha, Naba Das on Friday urged the Centre to allow the surplus vaccines, which the State has in stock for the age group of 45 and above, to be diverted for a short term.

In a letter to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Das laid out the current Covaxin status in Bhubaneswar and said, “The State government is providing Covaxin doses only in the capital city of Bhubaneswar. After inoculation of all the residents over 45 years, the capital city will still have a stock of 3,45,550 surplus doses in the month of June.”

“On the other hand, Bhubaneswar has a total of 5.17 lakh beneficiaries in the age group of 18 – 44, for which 10.34 lakh doses of Covaxin is required. Odisha is slated to receive only 1,64,370 doses in June for vaccinating the youths , which will not cater to the huge demand,” said Das.

Keeping the rising COVID cases in Bhubaneswar in mind, Das urged to divert the surplus stock of 3.45 lakh doses of Covaxin meant for 45+ age group to the youths as a loan which can later be compensated from the State quota.

It is pertinent to mention here that as the demand for vaccines in the State grew manifold last month, the State as well as the Centre are finding it hard to cater to all.

Since the past few days it has been observed that, while the slots for 18-44 age group were occupied as and when they were made available by the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), the slots for 45+ age group remained vacant in many vaccination centres, bringing resentment from many quarters.

Sadanand Meher, a professor at a College in Bhubaneswar said, “The State government should not waste the vaccines. If there are no takers for the higher age groups or if all are already vaccinated, then it should divert the excess doses for the youths.”

“Youths are the most vulnerable lot now. They go out for food, work. So they need the shots in an urgent basis,” Meher added.

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