Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that the decision on vaccinating all above the age of 18 for free should have been taken long back and the delay has cost many lives.
Reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of free vaccination for all adults, Banerjee said that it took him four months to listen to the pleas of the states.
“Back in Feb ’21 & multiple times thereafter, I’d written to the PM stating our long standing demand to provide vaccines to all for free. Took him 4 months but after much pressure, he has finally listened to us & implemented what we’ve been asking all this while,” she tweeted.
“The well-being of the people of India should’ve been prioritiSed since the very start of this pandemic. Unfortunately, this delayed decision by PM has already cost many lives. Hoping for a better managed #VaccinationDrive this time that focuses on people & not propaganda!,” she added.
Modi announced that the central government will provide free coronavirus vaccines to states for inoculation of all above the age of 18 from June 21, and asserted that vaccine supply would be increased significantly in the country in the coming days.
Santanu Sen, TMC Rajya Sabha MP and the state secretary of the Indian Medical Association, said the vaccine supply to each state should be in proportion to the severity of the disease.
“The impact of Covid-19 infection and demand for vaccines are not same in every state. Till now adequate supply of vaccines was not available to the states despite making orders. It would have been nice to hear from the PM that all states would get vaccines as per their demands. If that does not happen then this decision will not bear fruit,” he said.
Other parties in West Bengal welcomed the Central government’s decision.
State BJP vice-president Joy Prakash Majumdar slammed the state government for changing its stance. “The state government wanted to be part of the vaccination procurement process. But it failed miserably and wanted the Centre to provide vaccines like it was happening earlier. This is nothing but a double standard of the state government. It must ensure that free vaccines received from the Centre must not be black marketed,” said Majumdar.
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury also welcomed the Centre’s decision. “This was our demand for a very long time. I have written several letters to him in this regard. This is what the people of the country and all state governments wanted. We had raised this issue in an all-party meeting on the Covid situation. It would have been better if the decision was taken earlier. Still better late than never,” said Chowdhury.
CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty lauded the move: “It is a right decision. Sadly, the decision came after the Supreme Court pulled up the Centre over its vaccination policy.”