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Ilias Hossain

Staff Correspondent

India launches world’s largest vaccination drive against Covid-19

16 January 2021, 4:13:56

India’s vaccination drive, the world’s largest immunisation exercise against Covid-19, kicked off today with priority to about 30 million health care and frontline workers to be inoculated in the first phase.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the pan India rollout of COVID-19 vaccination drive this morning through video conferencing when he congratulated scientists for the achievement.

“It takes years to prepare vaccines. But in the shortest span of time, we have not only made one but two India-made vaccines,” he said requesting all not to pay heed against any propaganda or rumours over the vaccines.

He said, “People should not fall for propaganda over vaccines, amid controversy over Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which has been cleared for emergency use while still in clinical trial.”

“India is getting two vaccines in such a short time is a testimony to the talent and skills of the nation’s scientists…our vaccination programme is driven by humanitarian concerns, those exposed to maximum risk will get priority,” Modi said.

He asserted that the made-in-India vaccines will ensure a “decisive victory” for the country over the coronavirus pandemic”.

Giving India a new motto – “Dawai bhi, Kadai bhi (Vaccine as well as discipline)” – he cautioned that even after vaccination, citizens must stay vigilant and maintain all precautions against the virus, including masks and distancing.

In the second phase, about 270 million people above the age of 50 and those at particular risk to Covid will be inoculated. The process will draw on existing networks used to vaccinate tens of millions of babies each year against diseases such as polio.

Earlier, the Indian government has delivered adequate doses of vaccines to some 3006 session sites across the country. Around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site today.

This vaccination programme is based on the principles of priority groups to be vaccinated and health care workers, both in government and private sectors including ICDS workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase.

Meanwhile, the Indian government have circulated the dos and don’ts for vaccination to the states on Thursday.

According to the circular, vaccination is allowed only for those who are above the age of 18 years. Women who are pregnant or not sure of their pregnancy and lactating mothers should not receive the vaccine.

The government also said that interchangeability of vaccine is not permitted. The second dose of the vaccine should also be of the one that was administered as first dose.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier this month approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.

The cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the Indian government.

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