Judges, lawyers, teachers and journalists can now get the coronavirus shot in Punjab’s Ludhiana, the district administration said on Monday, widening the vaccination drive to sections not yet cleared by the central government. The decision will also cover workers of banks, NGOs, cooperative societies and food grain societies.
The move comes two weeks after the centre opened up the campaign to all above 60 and those above 45 with illnesses. India began its coronavirus vaccination programme in January with the goal of inoculating 3 crore frontline workers. So far, 3.17 crore people have received the jabs.
The Ludhiana administration’s decision also comes on the same day that the central government told the Supreme Court that “it is not in national interest to prioritise vaccination on profession and it amounts to discrimination”.
“It may not be in the interest of the nation to start sub-classification based on profession, trade for Covid vaccination. Vaccination policy is the domain of the executive in the interest of the nation and the court may not interfere,” it said.
The centre was responding to a notice from the Supreme Court on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which wanted priority to judges, judicial employees, lawyers and members of legal fraternity.
“In view of the limited manufacture of vaccine there is need for prioritisation of beneficiaries and priority given as per WHO guidelines,” the government said.
Meanwhile, Bharat BioTech and Serum Institute, the makers of the two vaccines being used in India, have also approached the Supreme Court to transfer pending petitions across several high courts requesting priority for certain sections to the top court. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the transfer petitions on Thursday.