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India kicks off world's largest Covid vaccination drive

NEW DELHI, January 16, 2021

India on Saturday kicked off the world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination campaign, which saw over 1.6 lakh people receiving the first shots of made-in-India vaccines on the first day.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched the vaccination drive and asserted that the made-in-India vaccines being rolled out will ensure a "decisive victory" for the country over the coronavirus pandemic.
 
India is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers and has one of the biggest immunization programs. In this campaign, Indian authorities hope to give shots to 300 million people, roughly the population of the US and several times more than its existing program, which targets 26 million infants. 
 
The recipients include 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers, to be followed by 270 million people who are either over 50 or have illnesses that make them vulnerable to Covid-19.
 
Addressing the nation ahead of the launch, Modi reminded people that two doses of vaccine are very important and asked them to maintain wearing masks and social distancing even after receiving the jabs.
 
During his speech, Modi turned emotional as he spoke of the disruption the pandemic caused to 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 sacrifices made by healthcare and frontline workers, hundreds of whom lost their lives to the viral infection.
 
Cheers erupted in hospital wards across India on Saturday as a first group of nurses and sanitation workers rolled up their sleeves and got vaccinated against Covid-19, at the start of what's likely to become the biggest national vaccination campaign in history.
 
For workers who have pulled India’s battered health care system through the pandemic, the vaccinations offered confidence that life can start returning to normal. Many burst with pride.
 
“I am happy to get an India-made vaccine and that we do not have to depend on others for it,” said Gita Devi, a nurse who was one of the first to get a shot. 
 
Devi has treated patients throughout the pandemic in a hospital in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state in India’s heartland.
 
The first dose was administered to a sanitation worker at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences in the capital, New Delhi.
 
"Serum Institute of India produced Covishield was supplied to all States/UTs. Bharat Biotech's Covaxin was supplied to 12 States. Total 3,351 sessions held across the country with both the vaccines," the ministry's official said.
 
The government also said that the vaccination drive was successful on Day 1. No case of post-vaccination hospitalisation reported so far.
 
"Since it was the first day of vaccination, a few issues came up- delay in uploading beneficiary list at some session sites and healthcare workers vaccinated though not scheduled for today's session," the government clarified in its press briefing. Resolutions provided for both the issues, it added.



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