On Day One, 1.46 lakh seniors get COVID vaccine shots, 29 lakh sign up

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan advises people to follow COVID-19 protocols despite launch of vaccination drive, which aims to develop herd immunity among India’s population  

In India, variants first identified in the UK, South Africa and Brazil have been found.

Around 1.46 lakh people aged above 60 and 45 with co-morbidities turned up at vaccination centres to take their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, while as at least 29 lakh signed up for the second phase of the inoculation drive that started on Monday.

According to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, more than 29 lakh people had registered on the Co-WIN portal and Aarogya Setu app by 8.30 pm on Monday.

“…And you see, if one person registers, s/he has the facility of registering for four family members…So, if you take the average of one person registering for two, then it becomes almost 60 lakhs. And, if you think everyone is registering for four of his family, then it crosses one crore,” he told NDTV.

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The first phase of vaccination which started on January 16 had vaccinated 1.43 crore health and frontline workers with Covishield and Covaxin. The second phase aims to reach out to 27 crore people over 60 and over 45 with co-morbidities.

On Monday, the first shot was taken by Prime Minister Modi, who urged fellow senior citizens to take the vaccine to achieve a COVID-19-free India.

The vaccination comes in the midst of a spike in cases across eight states, an occurrence that is being attributed to discovery of new mutated strains of the virus. Vardhan, however, told NDTV that there was no link between the increase in cases and the new strains and that the former was caused mostly because of lack of adherence to COVID-19 protocols like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing

Maharashtra alone recorded more than 6,300 new cases in the past 24 hours.

“The increase in cases – in Maharashtra, Kerala, or any other state has nothing to do with the new COVID strains, either Brazilian, South African or the UK,” he said.

The health minister urged people who are getting vaccinated to follow COVID norms nonetheless, “at least for a few months more”.

“The idea of vaccinating as many people as possible is to ensure that more and more people have antibodies, which you can either from being infected or the vaccine. This will strengthen our movement to herd immunity. Scientifically that helps in a big way… and ultimately that is the aim of vaccination – to protect people at individual level and at community and society level,” he told NDTV.

Amid complaints of many beneficiaries not being able to register for appointments on the required apps, Vardhan he will hold a meeting with states on Tuesday and urge respective administrations to request private hospitals to put a detailed vaccination schedule for the next month.

As per Health Ministry data, 4,27,072 shots were given till 7 pm – of this 3,25,485 beneficiaries got their first dose while the rest 1,01,587 were healthcare workers who received their second dose.

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