Low On Vaccine Supply, Centre Directs States To Prioritise 2nd Dose

The centre’s supply pipeline has just over 7 lakh additional doses for only six states.

Glass vials for liquid samples. (Photographer: Jeoffrey Guillemard/Bloomberg)
Glass vials for liquid samples. (Photographer: Jeoffrey Guillemard/Bloomberg)

The central government's supply of vaccines to states for inoculating those aged more than 45 years has dried up with only six states in line to receive additional doses anytime soon.

As on May 11, the centre's supply pipeline had just over 7 lakh doses to be provided to states in the next three days, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. That comes as states have 90.3 lakh balance doses in their inventory, which at the average daily vaccination rate of the past month would last for about four to five days.

On May 8, the centre had announced over 53 lakh additional doses for states to vaccinate 45+ year olds. Since then, however, the supply has only diminished.

In a separate media statement, the central government said starting May 14, states will be given fortnightly data on supplies from the centre to enable better planning. The next update on additional supplies is expected on May 14, according to the statement.

Without a top-up from the central government some of India's most populous states will start running out of vaccine doses for the 45+ age group in less than a week.

The states slated to receive additional doses from the centre in the next three days include Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala and Maharashtra.

It must be noted that this supply pipeline by the centre is only for vaccinating those above 45 years and healthcare and frontline workers. States have to procure their own vaccines directly from manufacturers for the 18-44 year olds.

Running Out Quickly

Among the most populous states, Rajasthan is in the most dire situation with just over 27,000 doses remaining. The centre's supply pipeline does not have any additional vaccines for the state, according to May 11 data.

West Bengal is another state that faces a severe vaccine crunch with less than 44,000 doses remaining. They, too, have no new supply incoming from the centre.

Other large states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu have enough doses to last anywhere between two and nine days.

Prioritise Second Dose, Or Else...

Even as the central government’s supplies thin, it wants the states to prioritise those in need of a second dose of the vaccine.

It has directed states to allocate minimum 70% of the supply from the centre for second dose vaccinations, and the remaining 30% of the first dose. States will have the liberty to increase the share of second doses to 100%, it said.

It has also warned that states failing to comply with the minimum 70% directive will see a cut in their vaccine allocations over the next fortnight.

Faced with diminishing supply from the centre and citizens clamouring for their second dose as time runs out, some states like Maharashtra are considering using the supply procured for 18-44 year olds to administer second jabs for the older group. That means they may have to pause vaccinations for the younger group.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope, in a press conference, said the state has only 2.75 lakh doses for the 18-44 age group, which will now be used to vaccinate those above 45 years old. A decision on pausing the inoculation drive for 18-44 years old may be taken at the state's cabinet meeting on Wednesday.