Day 1 of India’s vaccination drive against COVID-19 — arguably the largest in the world — went as smoothly as it could with as many as 1.65 lakh getting the shot on Saturday (January 16) in over 3,000 dedicated centres.
No case of post-vaccine hospitalisation was reported, though Maharashtra recorded 14 cases of adverse events. However, none was fatal.
The government’s target for the first day was to vaccinate over 3 lakh people, but it could manage to inoculate only 1.65 lakh people, partially because of technical glitches in the CoWin app, developed by the Union government to monitor and track the inoculation process.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated the drive on Saturday morning on an emotional note as he appreciated the efforts and sacrifices made by frontline workers and scientists in protecting the nation from the deadly coronavirus. Modi also took the opportunity to warn fellow countrymen against giving in to rumours over efficacy and safety of vaccines.
The Prime Minister said despite the vaccine, safety guidelines like social distancing and wearing masks should be followed. He raised a new slogan: “Dawai bhi, Kadai bhi (yes to Vaccine, yes to discipline)”.
Modi reminded those who got the jabs on Saturday to not to forget taking the second shot, which completes the vaccine schedule. Every vaccine taker needs to receive two doses of the same vaccine, 28 days apart.
Without naming Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which has been cleared without the third phase trial results in hand, Modi said that people should not believe in rumours or propaganda over vaccines.
“It takes years to make a vaccine, but in such a short time, not one but two Made-in-India vaccines were developed. This is a proof of the skills and talent of our scientists,” the Prime Minister said.
Meanwhile, sanitation worker Manish Kumar became the first person in India to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Saturday. Kumar got the shot at Delhi’s premier All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). “The hospital staff was scared (to take the vaccine). I went to my seniors and said I will take the vaccine first. I just wanted my colleagues to know that there is nothing to be worried about. My wife had told me not to take the vaccine. I told her it is just an injection. After the vaccination, I informed my family that I am safe,” Kumar said.
Since it was the first day of vaccination, a few issues came up like delay in uploading beneficiary lists at some session sites and healthcare workers vaccinated though not scheduled for today’s session, said the Union Health Ministry, adding that resolutions were provided for both the issues.
The government plans to vaccinate three crore frontline workers in phase one of the vaccination drive. A total of 3,006 centres have been set up for the purpose all over the country, where 100 beneficiaries each will be given either of India’s two indigenous vaccines, Covaxin or Covishield.
Modi reposed faith in India vaccine manufacturers. “Every Indian will be proud to know that life-saving vaccines given to 60 per cent children globally are made in India,” he said, adding that Indian vaccines were cheaper compared to the other global vaccines.
PM Modi also spoke of India’s response to the pandemic, terming it as one of “self-confidence and self-reliance”. “India responded quickly by forming a high-level committee two weeks before the first case was detected on January 30, 2020. On January 17, 2020, exactly a year ago, the country issued its first advisory and India was among the first nations to start the screening of passengers at the airports,” he added.
Over 1.54 crore Indians have been infected by COVID-19 since last January, while close to 1.52 lakh have died.