Dr Sudarshan said based on a prescription, anyone who is above 18 years of age must be allowed to receive the vaccine.
“The time has come to remove control and restrictions over availability and use of Covid-19 vaccines in the country,” Dr Sudarshan said. “This is because Covid-19 infections are spiraling again in many states, but the pace of vaccination is slow for various reasons. Vaccination is certainly one way to protect oneself against the disease.”
Dr Sudarshan, who had worked with the Serum Institute of India with research and production of Rabishield vaccine which protects against rabies, said access to the vaccine must be made possible merely by cross-checking a person’s authenticity through Aadhaar card. The government should allow manufacturers to produce single dose vials of the vaccine, just as it is being manufactured for all other vaccines, he said.
“The desired vaccine beneficiary could submit her Aadhaar card to the medical officer or physician and obtain a prescription for the vaccine,” he said. “The Aadhaar number can be mentioned on the prescription. The pharmacist can dispense the vaccine based on the prescription and the person should get vaccinated in a clinic. Alternatively, nursing homes, polyclinics, private hospitals and other medical facilities should extend the vaccination services for a fee or on charitable basis.”
He said he would make the suggestion to the state government. He said not only would this increase the number of people inoculated in the country, but it will also dent spread of the pandemic significantly.
The pace at which the vaccination drive is progressing currently, has left many experts worried. Concurring with Dr Sudarshan, Dr Ramana Rao, city-based physician cardiologist, said the masses are now eager to receive the vaccine and the time is ripe to extend the inoculation programme to include the younger population too.
“The number of fresh infections is increasing, and it will begin to grow exponentially in no time,” Dr Rao said. “The private health sector is willing to administer the vaccine to the public and the government must make use of our services. All those who did not get Covid in 2020 are now the most vulnerable to infection.” He was of the view that the government must only handle supply of vaccines.
Remove age restrictions
In a meeting with chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday, Dr CN Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, suggested that the government make the vaccine available for anyone above 18 years of age with comorbidities.
“For those between 18 and 45 years of age with comorbidities, age is a constraint in accessing the vaccine,” Dr Manjunath said. “The age rule should be relaxed. Of the diabetics who are treated for heart attacks in our hospital, nearly 25% are below the age of 40 years.”