- India’s COVID-19 vaccine drive began on January 16
- 1.91 lakh were inoculated on the first day; over 17,000 on the second day
- India is first giving the vaccine to 3 crore health and frontline workers
New Delhi: India’s COVID-19 vaccine drive which according to the government is the world’s largest vaccination drive began on January 16 after a formal launch by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On the first day of the immunisation campaign, the government had aimed to vaccinate over 3 lakh people across over 3,000 (3,006) sites in the country but by the end of the day, 1.91 lakh were inoculated. On Sunday (January 17), the day 2 of vaccination drive, over 17,000 people were vaccinated across 553 sites in six states. Over 2.24 lakh (2,24,301) beneficiaries were vaccinated in the first two days. Two COVID-19 vaccines – Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield which is manufactured by Serum Institute of India in Pune and Covaxin jointly developed by Bharat Biotech and Indian Council of Medical Research have been approved in India.
आज रविवार होने के कारण, केवल 06 राज्यों ने टीकाकरण सत्र आयोजित किए। कुल 553 सत्रों में कुल 17,072 लाभार्थियों को टीका लगाया गया। अब तक कुल 2,24,301 लाभार्थीयों का टीकाकरण किया जा चुका है।
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) January 17, 2021
In his address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had clarified that 3 crore health and frontline workers including police officials and sanitation workers will be vaccinated in the first phase of the drive. Following this, around 27 crore citizens above 50 years of age and persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities will be vaccinated.
Across India, doctors, nurses and sanitation workers rolled up their sleeves to get the vaccine jab and shared their experiences. Manish Kumar, a 33-year-old sanitation worker at Delhi’s AIIMS, became the first person in the country to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Healthcare worker Dhawal Dwivedi was the second person to be inoculated, followed by AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria and NITI Aayog member (health) and Chairperson of National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration, Dr VK Paul.
It was an honour for me to join our courageous Corona Warriors at AIIMS, Delhi on this momentous occasion.
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) January 16, 2021
Mr Kumar has been working at AIIMS for eight years. He said the last few months have been difficult because of the coronavirus pandemic but he reported to work every day. Talking to a news agency PTI, Mr Kumar shared his vaccination experience and said, “Many of them (staff) were scared. So, I went to my seniors and said I should be given the vaccine first. I wanted to prove to my colleagues that there is no need to be scared. Even my wife asked me not to take the vaccine. I told her it is just an injection. After taking the dose, I asked my mother to tell my wife that I am safe.”
Biji Tomy, a nurse who got the first vaccine shot at Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) hospital, said,
I feel proud and humbled to be a part of this historic moment. We risked our lives and were pained to see so many deaths every day. It is a relief that we have a vaccine against coronavirus now.
Adding to this, Naveen Kumar from LNJP Hospital’s administration department in Delhi said,
I feel perfectly normal after the vaccination. Drawing blood from veins hurts more, as quoted by PTI.
In Jharkhand also, Mariyam Gudiya, a sanitation worker and an employee at Ranchi Sadar Hospital became the first person to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In a video shared by the Deputy Commissioner of Rachi, Ms Gudiya expressed happiness. Lauding Ms Gudiya, the Deputy Commissioner tweeted, “She had been working tirelessly during the pandemic spread to keep the premises clean for the patients. We are proud to have you in #TeamRanchi”
Meet, Mariam Gudia, the very first person in #Jharkhand to get the #COVID19 Vaccine. She had been working tirelessly during the pandemic spread to keep the premises clean for the patients. We are proud to have you in #TeamRanchi@JharkhandCMO@HemantSorenJMM#Covid19Vaccination pic.twitter.com/ppO3fbMJjv
— DC Ranchi (@DC_Ranchi) January 16, 2021
Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla also took the jab of Covishield coronavirus vaccine soon after the launch and shared a small video on social media. In a 16 seconds long video, Mr Poonawalla is seen sitting on a couch as a man wearing a face mask injects the vaccine into his arm. He said he was taking the vaccine which is currently reserved for health and frontline workers to endorse its safety and efficacy. Sharing the video, Mr Poonawalla wrote, “I wish India and Narendra Modi ji great success in launching the world’s largest COVID vaccination roll-out. It brings me great pride that Covishield is part of this historic effort and, to endorse its safety and efficacy, I join our health workers in taking the vaccine myself.”
I wish India & Sri @narendramodi ji great success in launching the world’s largest COVID vaccination roll-out. It brings me great pride that #COVISHIELD is part of this historic effort & to endorse it’s safety & efficacy, I join our health workers in taking the vaccine myself. pic.twitter.com/X7sNxjQBN6
— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) January 16, 2021
12 top doctors across Tamil Nadu have inoculated themselves with the vaccine to build confidence among beneficiaries. At the Apollo Vaccination Centre in Chennai, one of the 3,006 sites across India, Dr Prathap C. Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group received the first dose. Dr Reddy expressed happiness on receiving the vaccine jab and said to NDTV,
I used to work six days a week. Sometimes I was a little hesitant about going into the ward but I think this immunity will help me now to be freer to do my usual work and see patients.
Leading by example our Chairman Dr. Prathap C Reddy took the Covid vaccination today stating "I am #provaccine It saves lives" @HospitalsApollo is proud to be a part of the world #LargestVaccineDrive as we partner with #GOI to #vaccinateIndia across 31 centres.(1/2) pic.twitter.com/fiztwtsTt4
— Dr. Sangita Reddy (@drsangitareddy) January 16, 2021
As the vaccination drive for COVID-19 began in Madhya Pradesh, the first beneficiary to get the shot in Bhopal said there is no need to be scared. “The vaccine shot is absolutely safe,” he said after receiving the first dose at JP Hospital.
Abdul Qayoom, a security guard at Era Medical College in Uttar Pradesh also got the vaccine jab and said he feels much safer. As quoted by a news agency PTI, Mr Qayoom added,
There was always fear in mind because of close proximity to coronavirus patients. But now I am feeling much safer.
Ward attendant Nagrathana at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute was the first person to receive the vaccine shot as part of the vaccination drive against COVID-19 in India. She has been working at the hospital for two years and said she was “very happy to get the vaccine.” She was kept in the observation for half an hour and apparently didn’t face any adverse effects.
Dr Sudharshan Bilal from Manipal Hospital is one of the top doctors in Bengaluru who received the COVID-19 vaccine and shared his thoughts and excitement. In a conversation with NDTV, he said,
The feeling that I could get the vaccine today was a phenomenal feeling. I have been waiting for a long long time. We are all fed up and have had mental fatigue about COVID. Of course, we have measures like social distancing, masking, and hand washing but we wanted some more measures to try and prevent the disease which is not only for us but also for the society at large and I was very elated when the vaccine first came into India. I took that without any hesitation and I have no hesitation now in recommending this to anyone.
Dr Bilal informed that the process of vaccination was very smooth and suggested taking the vaccine to whosoever it is available at the moment. In Karnataka’s Bengaluru, Jayanagar General Hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Krishnaiah, who was among the first to get a vaccine shot against COVID-19 also showed confidence in vaccines. He said the vaccine is not harmful and that he had no apprehensions about it and added, “I feel safer.”
Dr Krishnaiah also informed that the reason a beneficiary is kept under observation for 30 minutes after vaccine inoculation is to observe if there are any adverse effects of the vaccine. He explained to NDTV,
The vaccines against COVID-19 are new and we may not know after effects so observation of 30 minutes is good. Usually, there are no after effects but some people like 1 in a lakh may get anaphylactic shock.
Though the vaccination drive has started across India and the plan is to vaccinate around 30 crore people with two doses in the first six to eight months of the year, people still need to follow COVID precautionary measures. On Saturday (January 16), while launching the COVID-19 vaccine drive, PM Modi had very categorically cautioned people against carelessness after vaccination. He asked citizens to stay vigilant and maintain all precautions against the virus, including masks and distancing. He also asked to take a new vow, “Dawaai bhi, Kadaai bhi (yes to vaccine, yes to discipline).”
In his address, PM Modi recalled the heart wrenching initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic when people could not perform the last rites of their loved ones. PM said, amidst the crisis, it was doctors, nurses, paramedics, ambulance drivers, sanitation workers, police and other frontline workers who risked their lives to save us. Lauding health and frontline workers for prioritizing their duty, PM added,
They stayed away from their families and children, stayed away from their homes for days. Hundreds never returned home. They sacrificed their lives to save lives. So today, by vaccinating the healthcare workers first, society is repaying their debt.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.