India will start the vaccination drive for those in the 18-44 age bracket from Saturday as the country continues to battle the second wave of COVID-19.
However, some states have flagged the shortage of vaccines and expressed their inability to start vaccination of people above 18 years from Saturday.
The Centre on April 19 had announced a 'liberalised' policy, making all above 18 years of age eligible to get vaccinated from May 1.
It has also allowed state governments and private hospitals to purchase vaccines from manufacturers.
Per the revised rules, the centre will receive 50 per cent of the vaccines supplied; states and private hospitals will get the remaining doses.
As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, more than 2.45 crore beneficiaries register themselves on Co-WIN portal till 9.30 pm on Friday for the Phase III of the vaccination drive.
However, due to the delay in procurement of vaccines leading to a shortage, several states have said they won't be able to kick off the drive on Saturday.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday also appealed to residents of the national capital not to queue up at vaccination centres as vaccines have not yet been received.
"I request you to not queue up at the centres tomorrow (Saturday). As soon as the vaccines come, we will make proper announcements. Only then people with appointments can start coming to the centres," the chief minister had said.
The West Bengal government on Friday said the vaccination drive for those between 18 to 44 years of age will begin as and when the state receives the vaccine doses.
It added that vaccination of those above 45 years will continue.
The Tamil Nadu government also deferred its roll out the massive vaccination drive for the 18-44 years age group on May 1 as originally planned.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy said that there appears a huge gap between demand and supply of vaccines in the country and it would not be possible to provide vaccination for those aged between 18 and 44 years beginning May 1, and hence they will have to wait at least till August or September.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has asked people in the 18 to 45 age group not to visit vaccination centres on Saturday as the government is yet to receive a new lot of vaccines.
He said that the government will inform well in advance as to when the vaccination drive will commence for this age group and the procedure for registration thereon.
The vaccination drive against COVID-19 for people aged 18 to 45 will be not be beginning from May 1 in Madhya Pradesh as vaccines are not available, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan informed on Thursday.
The chief minister said the state government had spoken to both the country's COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers -- Serum Institue of India and Bharat Biotech, and were informed that they would not be able to provide doses of the vaccine.
Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Friday urged the people of the state aged between 18-44 years to 'refrain from going to hospitals' on Saturday, saying that the state has not received the required COVID-19 vaccine doses from the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Chhattisgarh Health Minister T S Singh Deo said that the state will start the vaccination from the poorest people who have Antyodaya ration card or BPL card due to shortage of vaccine.
Maharashtra Health minister Rajesh Tope on Friday also said that the state government will start a nominal vaccination drive on May 1 as Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray believes that vaccination for those between 18 and 44 must start vaccination from May 1.
India had started the COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 with two vaccines -- Covishield (Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited).
The second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to inoculate people above 60 years and those over 45 with comorbidities against the coronavirus began on March 1.
The third phase began on April 1 for all above 45 years of age.
In the next phase beginning May 1, all above the age of 18 would be eligible to receive the shot.