After Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation spoke of the world’s largest vaccination drive underway in India, two BJP-ruled states – Uttar Pradesh and Assam – announced that they would provide free Covid vaccination to those aged above 18 from May 1.

The Assam government will vaccinate everyone in the 18-45 age group for free from May 1 onwards, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said.

Donations received last year for Covid management will be utilised for the purpose, he said.

The state Health Department has already written to Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech for procuring 1 crore vaccines.

"Assam will give FREE vaccines to everyone from 18-45 years. GOI is giving free vaccines for 45+," Sarma tweeted late on Tuesday.

Expressing gratitude to the central government for bringing down the age bar for vaccination to 18, he said it was a “great relief” as it will provide a safety shield to every adult, thus giving a major boost to the war against the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the governments of Kerala, Bihar and Chhatisgarh have assured providing the Covid-19 vaccine free of cost to all above 18 years of age. 

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also said that expenses to vaccinate all above 18 years of age against Covid-19 in their states will be borne by the state government.

The Centre had announced on April 19 that everyone above 18 years of age will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccination from May 1, while private hospitals and states will be able to buy doses from manufacturers.

It also said that vaccine manufacturers will be free to supply 50%  doses to state governments and in the open market, for which they will have to make an advance declaration of the price before May 1.