LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to give free COVID vaccine doses to people above 18 years from May 1.
A virtual cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath agreed on free vaccines to all amid the spike in the COVID cases in the state.
Yogi took to Twitter and wrote: "In the cabinet meeting it has been decided that coronavirus vaccination of all the people above 18 years of age in Uttar Pradesh will be made free... Coronavirus will lose, India will win."
The health department has been tasked with working out the logistics of this exercise in the most populous state in the country.
"We have to increase vaccination centres and create a database of the target age group," the chief minister said in a statement.
The Yogi-led government's move comes on the same day when the Supreme Court had stayed the Allahabad High Court order directing the UP government to impose lockdown in 5 of its cities.
A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had asked the UP government to report to the Supreme Court within a week on the steps and plans it has taken to tackle the COVID surge.
On Monday, the central government had said that all those over the age of 18 can get the shot from May 1. Currently, only people over 45 are eligible to get the vaccine.
The centre which is facing criticism over reports of vaccine shortage had also said that states could now buy doses directly from manufacturers - up to 50 per cent of their supply - at a 'pre-agreed price'.
Uttar Pradesh is India's second most affected state, with over two lakh active coronavirus cases. New cases have seen an alarming spike since March 31, when 918 cases were reported.
On Tuesday, nearly 30,000 new cases were detected.
The deadly surge in new cases has increased pressure on the state's already creaking health infrastructure, with hospital beds unavailable even in the bigger cities. Another point of concern is the supply of medical oxygen.
(with inputs from IANS)