Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday set the ball rolling for the third phase of vaccination with an early-morning jab of Covaxin at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences. By 7 pm, over 2.5 million citizens had registered on the CoWIN portal, of which 2.4 million were citizen beneficiaries and remaining healthcare and frontline workers.
In the age group of 45-60 years of age around 18,850 got the first dose and more than 128,000 beneficiaries over 60 years of age got the shot on Monday.
Modi, who wore the Assamese Gamosa, a red and white long scarf, was administered the shot by nurse P Niveda from Puducherry, assisted by the second nurse Rosamma Ali from Kerala. “Took my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at AIIMS. Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against Covid-19. I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India Covid-19 free!” Modi tweeted.
Modi’s inoculation with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which has courted controversy, will likely build public confidence in the vaccine and counter hesitancy. “By taking Covaxin, the prime minister has given a clear message to the country and ended all rumours around it. Any hesitancy for domestic vaccine will end now,” Health minister Harsh Vardhan said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Personnel Minister Jitendra Singh, and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar were also among the prominent faces who got vaccinated on Monday.
Supreme Court judges will get vaccinated at a government facility, the CGHS Dispensary, within the court’s premises, the health ministry said.
The first day of vaccination for senior citizens and those aged over 45 with comorbidities got off to a slow start, with beneficiaries reporting glitches in the CoWIN platform. Hospitals, too, complained that there were issues with the software that made uploading data extremely slow.
Senior citizens, both registered and unregistered, queued up for the vaccine shot at private hospitals from the morning. Lack of exact time slots on the CoWIN portal meant beneficiaries ended up crowding outside many vaccination centres.
The health ministry has clarified that states have been given some relaxation. “In the next few days, the walk-in system will be streamlined, a provision is in place for this. A certain number of people can go to the centre after taking an appointment,” Vardhan said.
As more vaccination centres get added and glitches are resolved, states expect an increase in vaccination. “We will do it slowly and steadily so that everyone gets the slot,” said Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendra Jain.
Serum Institute of India’s Adar Poonawalla said in a tweet, “Great to see [PM Modi] leading from the front [and] getting vaccinated. In the interest of protecting our nation, I would urge the public to get vaccinated at the earliest, whether it be (Serum Institute’s) vaccines or any of the other vaccines being developed in India.”