Kerala CM Relief Fund receives over Rs 1.5 cr after CM announces free vaccine for all

States will have to vaccinate those between the ages of 18 and 45. Kerala has 1.65 crore people in this age bracket.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, wearing mask, standing and speaking at a public meeting facing a mike
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, wearing mask, standing and speaking at a public meeting facing a mike
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The Kerala Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund is seeing a surge in donations, just a few days after the Kerala Chief Minister reiterated that the COVID-19 vaccine would be free for all in the state from May 1. Earlier this week, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that states require an assured quota of vaccines under phase 3 of the vaccination drive, and that purchasing the vaccines would put a strain on the finances of the state. Amid this, donations began pouring in on Wednesday soon after, and over Rs 1.5 crore has been collected so far.

On Thursday, the fund saw Rs 51.9 lakh in donations, and on Friday, until 3.30 pm, the fund received Rs 1 crore in donations. Many on Facebook, who have donated an amount, are announcing the same, and urging others to do so.

Donations to CMDRF have poured in following the Union government’s vaccination policy for phase three of the exercise. As part of the policy, the Union government has said vaccine manufacturers will sell half the doses to the Union government, and the company is free to supply the remaining to the states and in the open market. This is after it allowed states to open up vaccinations for anyone over the age of 18.

The COVID-19 vaccination will continue to be free in government vaccination centres for eligible population groups, such as healthcare workers, frontline workers and people above 45 years of age. The present dispensation — where private COVID-19 vaccination centres receive doses from the government and can charge up to Rs 250 per dose — will not exist anymore.

For those between 18 and 45 years of age, the burden falls on the state government and private players. The Serum Institute of India, which produces Covishield, has said it will be priced at Rs 400 per dose for state governments and Rs 600 for private hospitals, corporates and others.

Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted on Friday that the state has 1.65 crore people between the ages of 18 and 45. For the cost of two doses, if we were to take Covishield alone, it will cost the state government Rs 1,320 crore. The CM said that guidelines for vaccination from May 1 will be issued and will be in two or three phases. “Those with comorbidities will be given preference,” he said.

On Thursday, Pinarayi Vijayan said that the state had initiated procedures to procure vaccines from the open market, and that discussions are on with companies.

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