World waiting for India's vaccines, watching how it runs biggest vaccination drive: PM Modi

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday said that the Covid-19 vaccination drive-set to begin at 3,006 designated centres across states- will be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 10.30 AM on Saturday.

“The massive countrywide Covid-19 vaccination drive will be rolled out by the Hon’ble Prime Minister from January 16,” said the government in a statement. “This would be the world’s largest immunisation exercise. A total of 3006 session sites across all states and UTs will be virtually connected during the launch.”

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 or Anganwadi workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase, said that the Union government

As per the details shared, at every centre, 100 healthcare workers have been registered for Covid-19 inoculations on the first day however the government also fears that actual count of people who take the shots may be far lower, owing to the “vaccine hesitation”.

“Over 3 lakh people are being sent messages to receive their vaccines on day 1 on the designated centres but it won’t be surprising if lesser than expected number of beneficiaries turn up,” said a senior official.

He added: “This will be just the beginning of the vaccination and it’s likely that many will want to see others take the vaccines first before they take the jabs.”

All the states, which have got the supply of the two approved vaccines—either one or both–have been advised not to administer more than 100 vaccines per day per centre.

Later, however, the number of designated centres could be increased to 5,000.

The government has procured 1.65 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the first phase which include 1.1 crore doses of Covishield by the Serum Institute of India and 55 lakh doses of Covaxin by Bharat Biotech.

To begin with, the jabs will first be administered to healthcare workers and who will then be followed up by frontline workers. Together, these two groups consist of 3 crore people in the country.

Meanwhile, the ministry also clarified that after the three-day polio immunisation programme, set to begin on January 17, was deferred in the view of the scheduled roll out of the coronavirus vaccination, it will now be carried out on the last day of this month.

“It has been decided by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in consultation with the office of the Hon’ble President of India to reschedule the Polio vaccination day, also known as the National Immunisation Day  or “Polio Ravivar” to 31th January 2021 (Sunday),” the government said.

It added that the decision is in keeping with the stated policy of the health ministry to ensure that Covid management and vaccination services as well as non-Covid essential health services proceed in tandem without adversely impacting each other.