For the first time since the immunisation drive began, the COVID-19 vaccine receivers in Tamil Nadu will have the option to choose between Covaxin and Covishield. The state is the first one to do so in India.
"Both the vaccines have been approved by the government, and they are in stock, the state government has decided to leave it to the beneficiaries to choose between the two vaccines. The decision was taken after requests for Covaxin has come from districts that earlier did not offer it. Some people favoured Covaxin over Covishield, and they had to travel far to take the jab at one of the six districts," Principal Secretary to the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Dr J Radhakrishnan, told The New Indian Express.
At the beginning of the vaccination drive in Tamil Nadu, Director of Public Health Dr T S Selvavinayagam had said, "Beneficiaries cannot choose between Covaxin and Covishield. They can only get what is available at the time of the vaccination drive in the site."
On January 16, when the drive started, Covishield was administered at 160 vaccination sites, while Covaxin was available at only six vaccination sites.
According to data released by the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Covaxin was limited to six government medical colleges till February 15. But since the demand for Covaxin was rising over Covishield, the government is making the Covaxin available at more sites.
On January 13, the state had received its first batch of 20,000 doses of Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech and 5,36,500 doses of Covishield, developed jointly by Oxford University and AstraZeneca on January 12. As of Wednesday, February 17, Covaxin is available at 22 sites.