Third phase of COVID-19 vaccination expected to start in March, to cover people above 50 years: Harsh Vardhan

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New Delhi : Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said that the third phase of COVID-19 vaccination, in which people above 50 years of age will be vaccinated, is expected to start next month.
Answering supplementaries in Lok Sabha, Harsh Vardhan said Rs 35,000 crore has been provided for COVID-19 vaccines in the Union Budget 2021-22 and Finance Minister has assured that allocation can increase if required.
He said COVID-19 vaccination drive was launched on January 16 to vaccinate one crore healthcare workers in the first phase and it is going on smoothly.
“The second phase started in different parts of the country from February 2 in which vaccine is being administered to frontline workers whose numbers are estimated to be around two crores. After the completion of phase 1 and phase 2, it is possible that in the next month, the third phase will start in which citizens over 50 (years) will be vaccinated across the country,” he said.
“It is difficult to announce any fixed date (for the third phase) right now but it is expected that the third phase of the vaccination drive will start in the second, third or fourth week of March,” he added.
Asked if the government was contemplating providing subsidy to vaccines which will be available in the market, the minister said National Expert Group on Vaccine has been constituted and it will take the relevant decisions. (agency)