Manish Kumar, a sanitation worker at Delhi's AIIMS, was the first person to be vaccinated, with Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan looking on, as part of the national drive. "I was not reluctant to get the vaccine shot... people should not be afraid," he told news agency ANI. AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria and Dr VK Paul, a member of government think-tank NITI Aayog, also received their shots today.
Across India doctors, nurses and sanitation workers rolled up their sleeves to get the first Covid vaccine shots in their respective states. In Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Krishnamma and Puspa Kumari were, respectively, the first to be injected. In Chhattisgarh a 53-year-old sanitation worker - Tulsa Tandi - was the first.
In Tamil Nadu, Dr Prathap C Reddy, the Chairman of Apollo Hospitals, was among 10 senior doctors to be vaccinated. Dr Reddy told NDTV he was "happy" to get the shot and said that it would help him continue doing his regular work. He also said both vaccines were effective, but revealed he had opted for Serum Institute's Covishield.
In Rajasthan Sudhir Bhandari, the Principal of Jaipur's Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Medical College was the first to get the shot, while in Madhya Pradesh, a hospital security guard and an attendant were among the first.
"Dawai bhi, kadai bhi (yes to vaccine, yes to discipline)," the Prime Minister said Saturday morning, as he cautioned people to maintain protocols - the wearing of face masks, maintaining social distance and washing of hands - even after vaccination. The Prime Minister also urged those getting vaccinated to come back for the second shot. He also paid tribute to the scientific community in the country, which has been at the forefront of the global fight to study the novel coronavirus and develop viable vaccines.
Among the southern states, Telangana's 139 centres will vaccinate 4,100 people today. In Tamil Nadu 166 centres will be open today; the state is looking to vaccinate six lakh people in this first phase. In Karnataka 7.17 lakh people across 243 centres will be vaccinated in the first phase, starting with 24,300 on the first day. Kerala will see vaccinations at 133 centres, with 300 frontline workers among the first to get the shot.
In Bihar 300 centres will inoculate 30,000 people today, with around 4.62 lakh to be injected in the first phase. Bengal has set up 210 centres to vaccinate 21,000 people today. Madhya Pradesh has set up 150 centres and hopes to vaccinate 15,000 people today and 57,000 within a week; the first phase target is 4.16 healthcare workers.
In Assam vaccination has started across 65 sites and around 1.9 lakh health workers will be given shots. In Uttar Pradesh 317 centres will see around 37,000 people injected today, with the first phase target set at nine lakh.
The government has tried to counter concerns about Covaxin, which has not completed Phase III trials. The drug was cleared in "clinical trial mode" and shots from today's vaccination showed those receiving the Bharat Biotech drug being asked to sign consent forms that assured compensation in case of adverse effects linked to the vaccine.
The South-East Asia office of the World Health Organization tweeted today, congratulating India for launching the "largest vaccination drive". Vaccinations have been planned in a phased manner, including identifying priority groups and informing candidates via phones. Three nationwide dry runs have also been held.
With input from ANI