Over 1.6 lakh healthcare and sanitary workers at the frontline of India's COVID-19 battle got their first jabs on Saturday as PM Narendra Modi launched one of the world's biggest coronavirus vaccine rolled out the world's largest vaccination drive against the pandemic, showing the light at the end of a 10-month tunnel that upended millions of lives.
More than one crore cases and 1.5 lakh fatalities later, India took its first steps out of the pandemic with shots of the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines being administered at medical centres across the country to a collective sigh of relief that this could finally be the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 trauma.
The Union Health ministry said that 1,65,714 beneficiaries were inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines till 5.30 PM across India on the first day at 3,351 session sites.
Here are the Highlights on COVID-19 Vaccination Drive:
Maharashtra has suspended COVID-19 vaccinations till Monday because of technical issues with the centre's software platform for managing the programme, news agency ANI reported on Saturday.
The CoWIN application, being used to tally beneficiaries, had thrown up glitches through the day, slowing the inoculation process in places, officials said at the end of the first day of India's colossal vaccination drive on Saturday.
On the first day of the immunisation campaign, the government said it aimed to vaccinate over 3 lakh people at over 3,000 vaccination centres established around the country. By the end of the day 1.91 lakh had been inoculated, it said.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan asked his counterparts in states and union territories to keep a check on rumours and disinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines as he held a review meeting on day one of the inoculation drive on Saturday.
According to a statement, Mr Vardhan congratulated authorities in states and UTs on the successful launch of the world's largest vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus, and asked state health ministers to make efforts to disseminate the right information regarding vaccines.
He said today is a very important day for the country.
The vaccination drive, for which preparations were being done from the last five months under the unwavering and dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has finally started, he said.
As many as 60 healthcare workers were administered COVID-19 vaccine at Aundh rural district hospital, one of the 31 vaccination centres in Maharashtra's Pune district on Saturday, an official said.
According to the district administration, none of the beneficiaries, including doctors, nurses and other staff, experienced any side effects to Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech.
While at least 100 healthcare workers were expected to receive the jab, 40 did not turn up for vaccination due to various reasons, Pune district civil surgeon Dr Ashok Nandapurkar said.
"Till the end of the day, 60 healthcare workers were given Covaxin and all of them are keeping well and no side effects have been reported," he said, adding that absentees will be covered in subsequent sessions.
The Udhampur-based Northern Command of the Army on Saturday joined the online launch of vaccination drive by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The drive will primarily commence with vaccination of healthcare workers deployed in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions, a defence spokesperson said in a statement.
He said a total of over 12,000 health workers are required to be vaccinated in a progressive manner.
"Vaccines are being accordingly collected from the designated centers. Nodal officers have been nominated in respect of the command hospital, military hospitals, base hospitals, garrison, field hospitals and advanced dressing stations," the spokesperson said, adding that all protocols would be followed.
As India's vaccination drive began today with Covid shots to health workers, those receiving Bharat Biotech's Covaxin were asked to sign consent forms that assured compensation if any adverse effect was found linked to the vaccine.
Only recipients of Covaxin have to sign a consent form before being vaccinated because its use has been allowed by the government in "clinical trial mode". Among those who received the shot after signing the form were AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria, vaccine committee chief and NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul and his wife Dr Shashi Paul, a scientist. Read
The Delhi Government hopes that the central government would vaccinate people against COVID-19 for free, if not, the Delhi government would give the vaccine to people in the metropolis for free, informed Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain on Saturday.
Speaking to ANI while his visit to Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, the Delhi Minister said, "The vaccination drive has started at 81 centres in the national capital and 100 people would get their first of the two doses at each centre. There is a target to get 8100 people vaccinated towards the end of the day."
"The number of vaccination centres in Delhi will be increased to 215 and we will eventually increase it to 1000 centres. This will depend on the speed the vaccine will be supplied to the metropolis," Mr Jain said.
The Indian vaccine will work as ''sanjeevani'' in the fight against COVID-19, said Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Saturday. The Minister joined the doctors and potential vaccine beneficiaries at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, to witness the launch of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination, where a sanitation worker becomes the first person to receive the vaccine.
Addressing the media he said that misinformation is being spread about the vaccines and urged the media to help in dispelling the rumours.
Total personnel involved in the drive - 16755; Total vaccines: 165714.
The efficacy of the Covishield vaccine goes up if the gap between two doses is more than 28 days, a top scientist at Adar Poonawalla's Serum Institute of India (SII) said Friday, a day before the launch of India's Covid vaccination drive.
Both the vaccines being used in India - Serum's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin - are two dose shots with a prescribed gap of 28 days between the jabs.
Suresh Jadhav, executive director, SII, said results were much better when this gap was increased by a few weeks.
Many healthcare and sanitation workers in Madhya Pradesh who became first recipients of COVID-19 jabs on Saturday expressed confidence that the vaccine will defeat the pandemic and help save many lives while a sanitary worker from Gwalior asked people to repose their faith in Indian scientists.
Asha Pawar (55), a health worker who became the first person to receive the vaccine in Indore's Maharaja Yeshwantrao (MY) Hospital, said she had no apprehensions about the safety of the vaccine and hoped that it will prove helpful in saving lives of people.
A sanitation worker at a hospital was the first person to be administered COVID-19 vaccine in the Union Territory of Ladakh where Lt Governor R K Mathur inaugurated the first phase of the inoculation drive on Saturday.
Ladakh has recorded 128 COVID-19 related deaths and a total virus caseload of 9,646 since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year. As many as 9,404 patients have recovered from the infection, while the rest 114 are undergoing treatment.
Ranganath Bhojje, a 43-year-old multitasking (MTS) worker at the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) who became the first person in Goa to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, said he was happy to get the jab and was hoping for the best.
Mr Bhojje has been working at the special facility created to treat COVID-19 patients here as an MTS staff.
After he walked out of the observation room at the GMCH, Mr Bhojje was greeted with flowers by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday asked the people to remain alert for rumours regarding COVID-19 vaccines and wait for their turn to get themselves vaccinated.
Healthcare workers at the frontline of India's COVID-19 battle got their first jabs on Saturday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching the world's largest vaccination drive against the pandemic.
Chief Minister Adityanath took a round of the Balrampur Hospital here and met the health workers who were administered vaccines to enquire about their well-being.
"Today is a day of immense happiness and excitement. India is the first country which has launched two vaccines," the chief minister said.
Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender, who had declared he would take the first vaccine shot in his state, did not do so today citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "strict instruction" that health workers should be first in line.
Yesterday, the minister had said he would take the first shot to instill confidence among people who still had apprehensions on safety of the vaccines.
But a sanitation worker, Krishnamma, became the first in Telangana to get the Covid vaccine. "I appeal to all to go ahead and take the vaccine. I was also a little apprehensive but doctors reassured me and the health minister too told me not to worry. I so far have no symptoms," she said, holding flowers given by Gandhi Hospital, where she received the jab. Read
Resident doctors at one of Delhi's biggest healthcare hubs, the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, today demanded they be administered Covishield vaccine and not Covaxin since the former has completed all three stages of trials as required under protocol. The second one, produced by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, is still only undergoing stage-III trials. The central government has, however, sought to underplay such apprehensions saying "a lot of work" had gone into the development of both products.
The resident doctors of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital have even said they might not participate in huge numbers if Covaxin is used. Read
Nearly a year after India reported its first case of coronavirus from Kerala, the "start of the end of the pandemic", as Health Minister Harsh Vardhan described it on Friday, began this morning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching the nationwide rollout. The government aims to vaccinate 1 crore healthcare workers and 2 crore frontline workers in the first phase. Read more
The regional office of the World Health Organization tweeted Saturday as India launched the first phase of a nationwide drive to vaccinate around three crore people against the novel coronavirus. Read more
The staff at a hospital in Pune made beautiful rangoli at the entrance of the health centre where coronavirus vaccine was launched on Saturday. The blue and white rangolis, with floral patters and 'Welcome' written in the centre, were drawn by nurses to welcome those who will take the COVID-19 vaccine on the launch day. "I am relieved that the COVID-19 vaccine is finally out. The paramedical staff is very happy. I will get the shot of Covaxin today," new agency ANI quoted a hospital staff as saying. Read more
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
- For so many months in every household had one question when will the vaccine come? Now it is here. In very less time.
- In just a few minutes, India will launch the world's largest vaccination drive.
- I congratulate everyone. Those related to its development deserve special applause.
- They didn't see festivals, day or night. They dedicated themselves.
- In general, vaccines take years to develop. But now we have two Made-In-India vaccines. This is an evidence of India's scientific progress and talent.
- Our vaccine developers have a global credibility.
- Life-saving vaccines given to 60% children globally are given shots made in India.
- These Indian vaccines are very cheap in comparison to the other global vaccines. Some of theose vaccines cost Rs 5,000 and need -70 degree storage temp.
- India's vaccines are developed in a way keeping in mind the conditions of the country. They will give "nirnayak jeet" to country.
- Our fight against Covid was based on atmanirbharta and atma vishwas.
- However big the crisis, Indians didn't lose atma vishwas.
- When Covid hit India, we had 1 lab. Now 2300.
- We were importing masks, PPE kits and ventilators. But now we are not just producing them for the country but also exporting them.
- We should be of help to others. Country is made of people and not water, bricks, etc.
- When we look at the past year, as an individual, family and country, we have learnt a lot.
- I want to remember those days on a day we are starting the vaccination - sankat ka daur.
- Generally, whole family stands with bimaar person. But this bimaari separated and isolated people.
- Mothers cried looking at their ailing children but couldn't hold them. Old fathers fought the disease in the hospitals alone. Children couldn't help them.
- Last rites could not be performed in many cases.
- But in times of that crisis and atmosphere of despair, some were giving us hope.
- They were putting themselves at risk to save us - Doctors, Nurse, para medics, ambulance driver, ASHA workers, Safai karmachari, police and other frontline workers - they prioritised their duty towards humanity. They stayed away from their families and childrens, 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 in a way paying their debts.
- In the history of mankind, many crises came, pandemics came, WWs came but no one ever thought of a pandemic akin to this.
- Science or society was not prepared for this.
- Pictures coming out of various parts of the world made Indian vichalit.
- We made this our strength.
- India made samvedanshilta its strength.
- The first case was found in India on Jan 30. But 2 weeks prior to that, India had already formed a high-level coming. Jan 17, 2020 was when India had issued the first advisory.
- India was one of the first countries to start screening passengers at airport.
- The willpower and courage and samyuik shakti shown by Indians will be remembered.
- Janata Curfew was a test of our patience. It prepared the country for a lockdown. With taali-thali-diya, we kept our spirits high.
- The best way to curb the spread was to ensure people remain where they were. So lockdown was necessary.
- It was not easy. Keeping such a huge population at home. What impact it will have on economy and livelihoods, we had them.
- But we prioritised "jaan hain toh jahan hain".
- We saw how quickly the whole country stood by this principles.
- I have spoken directly to the Indians from time to time during this time.
- We ensured supply of essential items. Gave food to the poor for free. Home Ministry set up helpline to answer people's questions.
- At a time when countries left their citizens in China at the peak of the pandemic, we repatriated them. Over 35 lakh Indians were brought back by Vande Bharat.
- When a country fell short of testing kits and labs, India set up its lab to test Indians before they boarded flights to India.
- All sectors came together to work together - Forces-ISRO-DRDO-farmers everyone worked together with the same sankalp.
- India's Covid deaths is very less and recoveries more.
- In many districts, no one died of coronavirus. They have recovered.
- In over 150 countries, we supplied essential medical supplies - paracetamol, HCQ, testing kits, etc.
- Even now, the world is looking at India for the vaccines.
- India's vaccine and our production strength should help humanity.
- This drive will now continue for long. So now to become a part of this exercise, volunteers are coming ahead.
- Masks, 2-gaz-ki-doori, and safai will remain necessary even after vaccination.
- New pran: Dawaai bhi, kadai bhi.
- You all stay healthy - with this I extend my best wishes.
- Congratulate those who spent their lives in the labs to develop the vaccine.
- May you all be safe! Thank you so much!
The nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive will be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 10:30 am today, setting off India on the path towards overcoming the pandemic that has upended lives, ravaged the economy and unleashed unprecedented suffering over the last 12 months. Read more
These workers have been attending to COVID-19 wards of GMCH, he said.
The state has received 2.21 lakh doses of Covid vaccines so far. This includes over 2 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield vaccine and 20 thousand doses of Covaxin indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech.