Chief Ministers of Odisha and Bihar were among the beneficiaries as the second phase of the nationwide Covid vaccination began today with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the first beneficiary.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is also the chief of Biju Janata Dal, took the vaccine shot at the Vidhan Sabha dispensary this morning, news agency PTI reported quoting officials.
"Happy to share that I took my first dose of #COVID19 vaccine today. Grateful to our scientists, health workers for their race against time to deliver the vaccine to people. Appeal to all eligible people to come forward and get vaccine for a #COVIFFreeOdisha," Mr Patnaik tweeted, sharing an image of himself taking first dose of the vaccine.
Happy to share that I took my first dose of #COVID19 vaccine today. Grateful to our scientists, health workers for their race against time to deliver the vaccines to people.- Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) March 1, 2021
Appeal to all eligible people to come forward and get vaccinated for a #CovidFreeOdisha. pic.twitter.com/aqqKSeb2ME
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who turned 70 today, also took vaccine shot at a health centre in state capital Patna. "I received first shot of the vaccine. The vaccination drive is being carried at vaccination centres across the state," he told reporters. Mr Kumar has announced that the people of the state will get vaccinated against COVID-19 for free in all private and government hospitals.
Earlier this morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also shared pictures of him receiving the Covid shot at Delhi's premier AIIMS hospital. The prime minister took a dose of the home-grown Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which has been linked to vaccine hesitancy because of its clinical trials status.
Apart from Covaxin, Pune-based Serum Institute's Covishield, developed in patnership with Oxford University and pharma giant AstraZeneca, is being used in the vaccination drive which began on January 16.
More vaccines are likely to be approved for use in the coming months, including Russia's Sputnik-V and Cadila Healthcare's ZyCov-D.
India will expand its coronavirus vaccination programme today to cover people over 60 and those over 45 who have illnesses as it hopes to rein in a growing number of more infectious virus strains and a spurt in cases in some states.
Registration and booking for appointment for COVID-19 vaccination is to be done through www.cowin.gov.in and the Aarogya Setu app and there will be walk-in vaccinations in some places as well. India began its vaccination drive on January 16 intending to inoculate three crore frontline workers but has struggled with hesitancy, giving out some 1.43 crore shots so far.
The government hopes to vaccinate 30 crore people by August in this second phase.