Kolkata: The West Bengal government is making arrangements to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all the people of the state, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said.
In an open letter, Banerjee said the COVID-19 warriors, including police, home guards, civil defence volunteers, correctional home and disaster management employees, will be administered the vaccine on a priority basis.
"I am happy to inform that our government is making arrangements for reaching the vaccine to all people of the state free of any charge," the chief minister said in the letter addressed to the frontline workers.
Banerjee expressed her gratitude to all the COVID-19 warriors for their selfless service to the people of West Bengal.
India is set to launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from 16 January with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers across the country.
The chief minister's announcement of free vaccination for everyone comes months ahead of the Assembly election, which is likely to be held in April-May.
Earlier, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had made a similar announcement. The southern state will also go to polls along with Bengal.
The Bihar government has also given the cabinet nod to provide free vaccine to every citizen of the state, a promise the BJP made in its manifesto for the Assembly elections held in October-November.
Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply
The country had previously cited lack of sufficient data to greenlight the vaccine for older people
JnJ's vaccine appears to be less prone than Pfizer-BioNTech's and Moderna's, to trigger the kinds of side effects that require monitoring.
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna plan to gradually test their vaccines in younger and younger age groups.