The Union government on Wednesday announced the second phase of coronavirus vaccination drive which will begin from March 1. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that priority will be given to senior citizens, i.e. people over the age 60 and those above 45 years with co-morbidities at 10,000 government and over 20,000 private vaccination centres.

The covid vaccination will be given free of cost at government centres, he said. The charges for vaccination at the private centres will be confirmed in a few days.

Javadekar said, “From March 1, people above 60 years of age and those above 45 years of age with comorbidities will be vaccinated at 10,000 government and over 20,000 private vaccination centres. The vaccine will be given free of cost at government centres.”

He further added, “Those who want to get vaccinated from private hospitals will have to pay. The amount they would need to pay will be decided by the Health Ministry within three-four days as they are in discussion with the manufacturers and hospitals.”

The government has been ramping up the nationwide vaccination drive which started on January 16. In the second phase of vaccination around 27 crore people are expected to be covered.

In the first phase, healthcare workers, both private and public, sanitation workers, other frontline workers, defence forces, police and other paramilitary forces are being vaccinated. The government had targeted the vaccination of around three crore healthcare staff and frontline workers, out of which only around 1.21 crore people have been vaccinated.

India has approved two vaccines for emergency use, Covishiled developed by Astra Zeneca and Oxford University and manufactured by Pune base Serum Institute and Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Russia’s Sputnik V has applied for emergency use.

The union government on Wednesday has sent high-level teams to 10 states and Union Territories that have seen a surge in Covid cases. Teams have been sent to Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir.

India has reported 13,742 new Covid-19 cases and 104 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to data released by the Union Health Ministry. With this the country’s total caseload stands at 1,10,30,176 and 1,56,567 fatalities.