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Current Affairs

Vaccine politics

Date: 24 October 2020 Tags: Health


The BJP’s announcement promising free Covid-19 vaccination for all in Bihar as part of its election manifesto has taken several states by surprise. 



The announcement of a free vaccine as an election promise singling out one state adds a political twist to a subject.



  • States are trying to figure out what the implications are. Many see this as the first indication that the Centre will procure the vaccine at rates it negotiates and states may then be asked to purchase their own stocks.

  • This is reinforced by the fact that the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration made it clear, in its very first meeting, that states should not chart their separate pathways for procurement.

  • For the Centre to assure free vaccine across the nation, it may have to be brought under the flagship Universal Immunization Program (UIP), under the National Health Mission, and the program will have to be extended to the entire adult population.

  • The announcement comes when the expert vaccine group is exploring multiple mechanisms including advance market commitments as has been done by US and European countries.

  • The UIP is a fully funded Central government scheme that, currently, provides free vaccination to all children and pregnant women annually.

  • At present, under the UIP, free vaccines are provided for nine diseases at the national level: Diphtheria, Pertussis (whooping cough), Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Rubella, a severe form of childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, and Meningitis & Pneumonia. 

  • The Centre is actively in communication with private health care providers who have said they are ready to vaccinate at their hospitals.