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PM Modi launches world's largest vaccination drive

Kriti Kalra | New Delhi

On 16 January 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the world's largest vaccination drive against the novel Coronavirus via video-conference that was telecast live across the nation. In an emotionally-charged speech, the Prime Minister said India's drive was based on humanitarian principles and stressed that "those who needed the vaccine the most will get the dose first." So, the ones at the highest risk, that include doctors, nurses, sanitation staff at hospitals, medical and para-medical staff would get the vaccine dose first.

"Today, scientists and those involved in vaccine research, deserve special praise. They have been involved in making the vaccine against Corona for the past several months. It usually takes years to make a vaccine. But in such a short time, not one, two Made in India vaccines are ready. Work is underway on some other vaccines as well," said Mr Modi.

The PM stressed on the need to have the two doses of the corona vaccine and maintain a gap of about one month between the two. He added that two weeks after the second dose, one's body would start to develop the immunity necessary against the virus. He added, "I request you not to make the mistake of taking off the mask and not maintaining social distancing even after taking the vaccine."

"There are over 100 countries with less than three crore population and India is administering vaccination to three crore people in the first phase only. In the second phase, we have to take this number to 30 crores," he added.

The drive aims to first inoculate millions of its healthcare and frontline workers and reach an estimated three crore people by the end of its first phase. A total of 3006 session sites across all states and union territories were virtually connected during the launch. Around 100 beneficiaries are being vaccinated at each session site on the inaugural day itself.

In the first phase government and private sector health care workers, including Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers, will receive the vaccine. The drive will be held daily from 9 am to 5 pm, except on days earmarked for routine immunisation programmes.

In the next phases of the vaccination drive, people aged over 50, and those who are below 50 years but have serious health conditions or co-morbidities will be vaccinated, according to the health ministry. Dry-runs at vaccination centres across the country have been held with lakhs of healthcare staff across districts being trained.

The drugs regulatory body of India has currently approved two vaccines. Pune-based Serum Institute of India has developed the Covishield vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University while the Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad's Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Medical Council of research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology. 

The vaccination programme in the country will use Co-WIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work), an online digital platform developed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which will facilitate real-time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries for COVID-19 vaccine. This digital platform will assist programme managers across all levels while conducting vaccination sessions.

A dedicated 24x7 call centre - 1075 - has also been established for addressing the queries related to COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine roll out and the Co-WIN software. The full initial procurement amount of 1.65 crore doses of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines against COVID-19 have been allocated to all States/UTs in the proportion of Health Care Workers database, Union Health Ministry stated.

Most of the states have received the first batch of coronavirus vaccine doses including Delhi which has received 2,74,000 vaccine doses, followed by Maharashtra receiving over 9 lakh doses and Andhra Pradesh around with 4.7 lakh doses.

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