In a significant decision to check the surge in COVID-19 cases, the government on Monday announced that everyone above the age of 18 from will be eligible to take vaccine from May 1.

The decision on a liberalised and accelerated Phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Prime Minister said that the government has been working hard from over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible of time.

An important decision taken in the meeting is that pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines has been made flexible in Phase 3 of the world’s largest vaccination drive.

All stakeholders have been given flexibility to customise to local needs.

Vaccine manufacturers have been incentivized to further scale up their production, as well as attract new national and international players.

Vaccine manufacturers have been empowered to release up to 50 per cent of their supply to state governments and in the open market at a pre-declared price.

States have also been empowered to procure additional vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers, as well as open up vaccination to any category of people above the age of 18 for the same.

The vaccination drive started earlier will continue as before, providing free vaccination for essential and priority populations as defined earlier – healthcare workers, frontline workers and people above 45 years.