New Delhi, April 7

The central government is all set to launch workplace COVID vaccinations from April 11 in a bid to significantly boost the ongoing inoculation drive, which continues to battle hesitancy and wastage issues.

The decision came as India’s daily COVID cases touched a new and alarming peak of 1, 15,736, the highest since the first case was reported on January 30, 2020 and active infections that require medical intervention rose to 8,43,473.

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan communicated the decision on workplace vaccinations in a letter to additional chief secretaries and principal secretaries health of states on Wednesday saying: “To increase access of vaccines to people aged 45 years and above, COVID 19 vaccination sessions may be organised at workplaces (both government and private) which have 100 eligible and willing beneficiaries by tagging these workplaces with an existing COVID vaccination centre.”

The Government has asked states to start consultations with the private and public sector managements and prepare to launch Workplace Vaccination across India from April 11.

Explaining the rationale behind the decision, the Centre said a substantial proportion of the people aged 45-59 years and in some cases up to 65 years are in the organised sector of the economy and are involved in formal occupations in government and private offices or manufacturing and service sector.

India opened COVID 19 vaccinations for 45 plus people from April 1 but the pace of coverage remains low. Although 30 crore priority group people were identified for inoculations in the first two phases of the drive (January 16 to March 31), only 8,70,77,474 (29 per cent) doses have been administered as of Wednesday morning.

The guidelines on Workplace Vaccination which the Centre has shared with the states mandate the district magistrate and municipal commissioner to identify potential workplaces for vaccinations and engage their managements.

The guidelines say workplaces will designate one nodal officer each to coordinate with the district health authorities and this officer will ensure beneficiary registration and the availability of IT structures at the workplace in question.

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