Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move to take the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on the very first day of India opening up the inoculation drive for senior citizens and those aged 45 and above with comorbidities should eliminate any hesitancy from the minds of people about the vaccine, AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria said on Monday.
PM Modi received the indigenously developed Covaxin jab by Bharat Biotech on Monday morning.
AIIMS was intimated about the prime minister's visit to the hospital to take the vaccine late Sunday night and as such no special arrangement was made for him, Dr Randeep Guleria told PTI.
"As it was a weekday, he chose to come early in the morning so as not to cause any inconvenience to patients at the hospital," Dr Randeep Guleria said.
"The prime minister taking the jab on the very first day would instill confidence among the public and remove any hesitancy and doubts that they might have about the vaccine. People should come forward to get themselves inoculated and get India rid of the disease," he said.
Dr Randeep Guleria said that Sister P Niveda, from Puducherry who administered the Covaxin jab to the prime minister, was informed about her high-profile task only in the morning.
The AIIMS director said that PM Modi took the shot at around 6.30 AM after which he was kept under observation for half-and-hour as per protocol, after which he left.
"He is fine after taking the vaccine," Dr Randeep Guleria said.
PM Modi on Monday took his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS here and appealed to all those who are eligible to get inoculated.
"Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS. Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19," PM Modi tweeted after taking the vaccine shot.
"I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!" he said.
Nurse Niveda later told reporters that the prime minister, after being administered the vaccine shot, remarked "Laga bhi diya, pata bhi nahin chala (Already done? I didn't even feel it)."
The government had announced on Wednesday last that everyone above 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with comorbidities will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine from March 1 for free at government facilities and for a charge at many private hospitals.
Citizens will be able to register and book an appointment for vaccination, anytime and anywhere, using the Co-WIN 2.0 portal www.cowin.gov.in through other IT applications such as Aarogya Setu.
There is also a walk-in provision for the beneficiaries to get themselves registered at the nearby session site to get vaccinated.