India gave coronavirus vaccine to more than 190,000 health workers across the country on the first day of the vaccination drive, which went off fairly smoothly – barring software glitches that delayed the exercise at many centres, a few minor adverse events following immunisation, and some doctors refusing to take the Covaxin shot.
There was no post-vaccination hospitalisation reported in any of the centres, the health ministry said.
Among those who received the jab today were V K Paul, member health Niti Aayog and chair of the national expert committee on vaccine administration, Randeep Guleria, director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Naresh Trehan, chairman of Medanta and Adar Poonawalla of Pune’s Serum Institute of India.
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, while interacting with state health ministers today said, “I will take the vaccine when it is my turn, which will be when it’s the turn of those above 50 years of age.”
Health ministry said that it had received complaints of the Co-WIN digital platform being slow causing delays in uploading the beneficiary list. Various states said that they were unable to upload sessions and that beneficiary details were not getting reflected online and that the web pages kept buffering. Some of the hospitals in West Bengal, for instance, said that there were glitches with the digital platform, Co-WIN app, on Friday and beneficiaries had not received messages and that they had to select their 100 beneficiaries manually.
Manohar Agnani, additional secretary of the health ministry said in a press conference that the system performance and speed have been improved and it was being further optimised.
Manish Kumar, a sanitary worker, became the first person to be inoculated in the capital at the AIIMS hospital.
Delhi also witnessed doctors refusing to take the Covaxin jab. The government had dispatched Covaxin to 12 states. The Serum Institute of India’s Covishield was supplied to all states and union territories. Controversy erupted after a letter by Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital doctors was made public, citing apprehension by doctors in taking the vaccine instead of Serum Institute’s Covishield, which was being administered in Delhi’s state hospitals.
Andhra Pradesh and Bihar had vaccinated the highest number of beneficiaries – over 16,000 by Saturday evening.
For many health workers, the vaccine was a ticket to see their families after almost a year.
The vaccination drive was kickstarted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning, who cautioned people to ensure that they take both the doses at one month’s gap and exhibit the same patience they had shown through the pandemic.
Government plans to vaccinate 30 million health and front line workers over the next few months. This would be followed by another 270 million people over 50 years of age and those with comorbidity. Details of this leg of vaccination are still being worked out by the health ministry.
Health ministry has also cautioned everyone not to let their guard down post vaccination since it would take 14 days after the second dose for the antibodies to form.