After a long struggle for demands for free and universal vaccination by political oppositions, student, youth and trade union organisations, the government has finally brought some welcome changes to its previous arbitrary vaccination policy. In the name of decentralisation in the previous phase, the states and private sector were made to procure vaccines at higher prices than the Central government and provide them to citizens. After being challenged in the Supreme Court, the government has made corrections and has announced the provision of a free vaccination program for citizens procuring 75% vaccines while the remaining 25% has been left for the private sector like the previous phase. The reasoning provided for the same has been that those who can afford it can get it in private hospitals. The flaw with the reasoning is that the vaccine, which is crucial to controlling the onslaught of COVID-19 which has already created enough havoc in the second wave, is not a luxury but a public good. The argument unfairly targets the urban salaried population containing most of the IT sector employees with a major contribution to direct and indirect taxation and it only helps private medical players make huge profits over it. Beyond the Natural Disaster Relief fund, a separate PM Cares Fund was also created last year to which large sums were donated by the people. On the other hand, projects like Central Vista from the same public fund have gone on unhindered in the pandemic.
We thereby demand that a universal and free vaccination program be provided to all citizens instead of commodifying a necessity for profits. We also demand that the PM Cares Funds be made transparent and be used by the Central government to procure all vaccines and organise the vaccination program.