New Delhi: Highlighting that the nation is close to administering a billion Covid vaccine doses, the Centre has urged states and Union Territories to focus on increasing the coverage of the second dose in light of adequate availability of shots.

The cumulative vaccine doses administered in the country so far under the nationwide COVID-19 inoculation drive has exceeded 99 crore. The countrywide COVID-19 vaccination programme was launched on January 16 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Union government has also sought suggestions from the states in formulating new guidelines for international travel.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan reviewed the progress of vaccination with Health Secretaries and mission directors of national health missions in states and UTs, through a video conference on Monday, according to a ministry statement.

Bhushan highlighted that the nation is close to administering a billion doses and congratulated the states and UTs for their effort to vaccinate all citizens.

It was highlighted that a sizeable number of beneficiaries have not received their second dose of the Covid vaccine. The states and UTs were urged to focus on the second vaccination dose, the statement said.

At the virtual conference, it was pointed out that many states have adequate doses to vaccinate those people who are awaiting their second jab. The Government of India is in a position to provide additional vaccine doses to the states and UTs so that they can complete the task, it said.

They were also exhorted to accelerate the vaccination drive.

The states and Union Territories were advised to identify and prioritize districts having low coverage for focused action and explore requirements for mobilization efforts, addressing local challenges, need for additional Covid Vaccination Centres and improving access in rural areas, the statement said.

The Health Ministry has issued standard operating procedures over the last one year for international travel.

It is reviewing the guidelines in consultation with all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Home Affairs, Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of External Affairs. The states and UTs were also requested to share their suggestion or feedback, the statement said.

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