The Union government on Friday announced that the vaccination drive for COVID-19 currently underway for healthcare and frontline workers will be temporarily halted on Saturday and Sunday on account of software change necessary for the second phase of vaccination. The second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive — for those aged above 60 years and those above 45 years with co-morbidities — will begin from March 1 across the country.

This two-day pause comes at a time when India has been criticised for its slow rate of vaccination. As part of the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, health care workers (HCWs) were given the first jab starting January 16 and later other frontline workers (FLWs) like police personnel, armed forces, municipal workers etc were targeted. Nine states/UTs  have so far given the first shot to less than 60% of their registered HCWs and 13 States/UTs have vaccinated less than 40% of registered FLWs.

In a press release, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, on Friday, said, “On this Saturday and Sunday (27th and 28th Feb), the Co-Win digital platform will be transitioning from Co-Win1.0 to Co-Win 2.0. In view of this, COVID 19 vaccination sessions will not be scheduled during these two days. The States and UTs have been already informed about this transition.”

While the drive is set to start from March 1, state governments are yet to receive final instructions about how to go about the expanded drive. As earlier reported,apart from government-run facilities, private centres will also administer the COVID-19 vaccine. While vaccination will be free in government set ups, it will be paid service in private facilities. The price for the same is also yet to be fixed. According to preliminary information, beneficiaries have to enrol themselves on the updated versions of the Co-WIN app and those with no access to technology can also walk into designated registration centres in hospitals and other notified Common Service Centres.