Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the first phase of the pan-India Covid-19 vaccination drive on Saturday through video conference.
“In a short time two made-in-India vaccines have been developed and this reflects India’s advancement in the field of science and medicine,” PM Modi said adding that those who are at the highest risk of getting infected will be vaccinated first.
The made-in-India vaccines will ensure a "decisive victory" for the country over the coronavirus pandemic, he asserted.
Healthcare workers in both government and private hospitals will be vaccinated during that first phase, followed by frontline workers, Modi said.
“Everyone will be administered two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and there will be a gap of one month between being administered the two doses,” PM Modi said adding details about vaccination appointment will be disseminated through the Co-WIN app.
During the first phase of the drive nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers will be vaccinated throughout the country.
“Both the vaccines (Serum Institute’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin) have been approved only after necessary scrutiny and I urge everyone to not spread rumours about the vaccines’ safety and efficiency,” Modi said during the launch.
A total of 3,006 session sites across all states and union territories were virtually connected during the launch. According to reports, around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site.
However, the PM also urged everyone to not let their guard down. “Even those who have received the first dose of the vaccine must adhere to social distancing norms because the vaccine is only completely effective after the second dose,” Modi said.
Modi also asked people to guard against complacency and follow the mantra “Dawaai bhi, kadaai bhi”.
During his speech, Modi became emotional as he spoke of the disruption the pandemic caused in people's lives, isolating victims of the coronavirus and denying the dead traditional last rites. In a choked voice, the prime minister also referred to the sacrifices made by healthcare and frontline workers, hundreds of whom lost their lives to the viral infection.
He also urged the country to show patience during the vaccination drive as it had shown till now in fighting the pandemic.
Healthcare workers will be vaccinated with either Serum Institute’s Covishield or Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The Centre has purchased 1.10 crore doses of Covishield and 55 lakh doses of Covaxin. While Serum Institute sold its vaccine at a cost of Rs 210 per vial (including taxes), Bharat Biotech provided 16.5 lakh shots of Covaxin free of cost to the Centre while it sold 38.5 lakh doses at a cost of Rs 295 (sans tax).
On the eve of the roll-out, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed the preparations and visited the dedicated Covid control room set up at the Nirman Bhawan premises of the health ministry.
According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities. Cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the central government.
An online digital platform Co-WIN, developed by the health ministry, will be used to drive the vaccination programme.
(With PTI inputs)