The Delhi government has decided to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to everyone above 18 years of age, said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday, adding that approval has been given for the purchase of 1.34 crore doses.

"The Delhi government has decided to provide free vaccines to everyone above 18 years of age. Today we have given the approval for the purchase of 1.34 crore vaccines. We will make an effort to ensure that it is purchased soon and administered at the earliest to people," Kejriwal said in an address.

Other states who have decided to provide free vaccines include Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana, Odisha, Jharkhand, and West Bengal, among several others. 

The Delhi Chief Minister further urged people to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, stating that vaccinated people are less likely to get the infection, and the people who do get it have mild symptoms. He also hit out at the varying price of the vaccines, saying "One manufacturer has said that it will cost Rs 400, another has said Rs 600. The Centre is getting it at Rs 150. I believe that this price should be the same." 

Speaking about profits being made by the vaccine manufacturers, Kejriwal said, "This is not the time to make a profit. This is the time to help."

The Centre on April 19 had announced a 'liberalised' policy, making all above 18 years of age eligible to get vaccinated from May 1. It has also allowed state governments and private hospitals to purchase vaccines from manufacturers. 

India had started the COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 with two vaccines -- Covishield (Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited).

The second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to inoculate people above 60 years and those over 45 with comorbidities against the coronavirus began on March 1. The third phase began on April 1 for all above 45 years of age. In the next phase beginning May 1, all above the age of 18 would be eligible to receive the shot.

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