Union Budget 2021-22 Expectations: The Covid-19 pandemic not only created a health crisis, but the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the highly infectious disease has also hit the economy hard. As a result, mass vaccination has become necessary to stop the spread of the virus.
As the disease may be eradicated only if nearly the entire population is vaccinated, the government has little choice but to make it a free of cost drive for most of the people.
If it is made optional for people to buy vaccines to get vaccinated, most people – especially the poor – would prefer not to have it.
Currently, to honour the Covid warriors, the government has decided to provide free vaccines to people associated with the healthcare sector (Health Care Workers) and Front Line Workers.
The vaccination of Health Care Workers will cover approximately 1 crore people working in both Public Health Facilities and Private Health Facilities.
The vaccination of Front Line Workers will cover approximately 2 crore people, which includes State and Central Police personnel, Armed Forces Personnel, Home Guards, Civil Defence and Disaster Management volunteers, Municipal Workers, Prison staff, as well as Revenue workers involved in containment and surveillance.
So far two vaccines are available for use in India – Covishield produced by the Serum Institute of India and Covaxine produced by Bharat Biotech.
Apart from storing, transporting and administering the vaccines, the cost (without tax) per dose of the two-dose vaccines for the government would vary from Rs 200 to Rs 206.
It’s most likely that the taxpayers may have to bear the burden of the Covid-19 vaccine that the government has decided to give free of cost to certain groups of people.
But how would the government finance thousands of crores of money for the free of cost vaccination?
Some form of tax would be levied for Covid vaccination, something like a Covid cess.
So, like the present Education and Higher Education Cess, you may have to pay swome cess to bear the burden of free Covid-19 vaccination as well.