The State government will keep its commitment to the people to make COVID-19 vaccines free of cost to every one of its citizens, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Wednesday.
Even though the new vaccine policy of the Union government leaves the State, already in dire financial straits because of the pandemic, to shoulder the burden of vaccine costs, the State government has no intention of going back on its word to vaccinate everyone for free, he said.
Mr. Vijayan said that there was no politics involved in his demand that the Centre should fulfil its responsibility towards the States. It was a demand for the common good of people. It was up to the Centre to ensure that the States had adequate vaccine supplies to protect the people.
The State and the Centre should be standing together to fight the pandemic. Instead, the Centre had chosen to wash its hands of its responsibility regarding vaccines and has now left the State governments to compete in the open market along with private players for securing vaccines.
Kerala is doing the best it can to vaccinate all its population above 45 years .
The State has an enviable record of zero vaccine wastage too. But acute vaccine shortage for the past few days is threatening to derail the entire vaccination process, Mr. Vijayan said.
Explaining the restrictions the government has decided to impose on civil life and movement of people, he said that the current situation is grave and that the intense pace of disease transmission has overshot all prediction of public health experts.
The State is doing everything to prepare the health system so as to meet all medical emergencies that would arise. Though the current restrictions would create some difficulties, it is up to the people to understand the gravity of the situation, he said.
Steps are being taken on a war footing to intervene in areas where the test positivity rate is over 35%.