The Kerala government on Saturday said that vaccination of those in the over 18 years age bracket, as part of the country’s fight against COVID-19, will be delayed due to shortage of vaccines and urged the centre to take steps immediately to ensure their availability.
“The vaccination of those above 18 years of age will be delayed by a few days. As efforts are on to procure vaccines from manufacturers, those in the 18 plus category cannot be given the jabs from tomorrow”, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters.
The third phase of the vaccination drive for those in the 18-45 age group was to have started from May 1.
The Chief Minister also urged people not to rush to the vaccination centres for their shots and said those who have to get the second booster dose would be contacted.
A huge rush is being witnessed in many vaccination centres, which should not turn into virus spreaders, he said.
In Kerala, it had been decided to vaccinate all those above 45 years by May 30.
However, the necessary vaccines for the same have not been received so far.
So immediate steps have to be taken by the central government to make more vaccines available, he said.
Mr Vijayan also warned that the government would be forced to take legal action against private laboratories who do not pass on the benefits of the revised RT-PCR testing rate to the customers.
The government had on April 29 slashed the rate of the RT-PCR test, used to detect coronavirus infection, from Rs 1,700 to Rs 500.
Most private labs have agreed to adhere to the new rates, but some are refusing to conduct the tests at the reduced rates, he said adding the government expects everyone to cooperate with it on the matter.
The revised tariff of Rs 500 is inclusive of the manpower cost for conducting the test and the price of materials/ equipment used for the test, which comes to Rs 240.
These rates were decided after a detailed study, he said.
Mr Vijayan said it has also been noticed that some labs were encouraging customers to opt for the costly TrueNat test.
The government will not accept this at a time when the disease spread is on the rise.
“We will be forced to take legal action against those labs that refuse to do the tests or insist on billing the old rate.”
“We expect them to do the test at the rate fixed by the government,” he said.
Mr Vijayan also urged people not to hold victory celebrations and gatherings after the counting tomorrow.
The winning candidates should avoid personally meeting their voters to thank them and instead, use the social media to express their gratitude.
The Chief Minister also extended his May Day greetings to all the healthcare workers who have dedicated themselves to Covid prevention and are at the forefront in the fight against this pandemic for more than a year now without a break.
In Kerala, there are over three lakh covid cases.
Due to the rising cases, arrangements are being made for more oxygen war rooms, ICU beds, ventilators and Covid First Line treatment centres, the Chief Minister said.