Uttar Pradesh will now offer the COVID-19 vaccine free of cost from 1 May, as India's vaccine net widens to include all over the age of 18.
The decision was taken late on Tuesday at a virtual cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who tested positive for the disease last week.
Adityanath tweeted: "In the cabinet meeting, it has been decided that COVID vaccination to all people above 18 in Uttar Pradesh will be made free. Coronavirus will lose, India will win."
The health department has been tasked with working out the logistics of this exercise in the most populous state in the country. "We have to increase vaccination centres and create a database of the target age group," the chief minister said in a statement.
On Monday, the central government had said that all those over the age of 18 can get the shot from 1 May. Currently, only people over 45 are eligible.
Faced with criticism over reports of vaccine shortage, the centre had also said that states could now buy doses directly from manufacturers – up to 50 percent of their supply – at a 'pre-agreed price'.
Uttar Pradesh is India’s second most-affected state, with over two lakh active COVID cases. New cases have seen a frightening spike since 31 March, when 918 cases were reported.
On Tuesday, nearly 30,000 new cases were detected.
The deadly surge in new cases has increased pressure on the state's already creaking health infrastructure, with hospital beds unavailable even in the bigger cities. Another point of concern is the dwindling supply of medical oxygen.
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