New Delhi, January 16 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched India's vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus via video conferencing.
Billed as the world's largest vaccination program, covering the entire length and breadth of the country, the drive aims to first inoculate millions of its healthcare and frontline workers and reach an estimated 3 crore people by the end of its first phase. A total of 3006 session sites across all states and union territories will be virtually connected during the launch. Around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site on the inaugural day, the union health ministry has said.
In the first phase government and private sector health care workers, including Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers, will receive the vaccine.
The drive will be held daily from 9 am to 5 pm, except on the days earmarked for routine immunisation programmes.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday termed the country's vaccination drive as the "beginning of the end of Covid-19." He also urged people to trust the indigenously manufactured vaccine, saying the government has given emergency use approval after proper scientific scrutiny.
In the next phases of the vaccination drive, people aged over 50, and those who are below 50 years but have serious health conditions or co-morbidities will be vaccinated, according to the health ministry.
Dry-runs at vaccination centres across the country have been held with lakhs of healthcare staff across districts being trained.
The drugs regulatory body of India has currently approved two vaccines. Pune-based Serum Institute of India has developed the Covishield vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University while the Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad's Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Medical Council of research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology.
The vaccination programme in the country will use Co-WIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work), an online digital platform developed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which will facilitate real-time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries for COVID-19 vaccine. This digital platform will assist programme managers across all levels while conducting vaccination sessions.
A dedicated 24x7 call centre - 1075 - has also been established for addressing the queries related to Covid-19 pandemic, vaccine rollout and the Co-WIN software.
The full initial procurement amount of 1.65 crore doses of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines against Covid-19 have been allocated to all States/UTs in the proportion of Health Care Workers database, Union Health Ministry stated.
India reported 15,158 new COVID-19 cases, 16,977 discharges and 175 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the Union Health Ministry's data on Saturday. The cumulative caseload in the country reached 1,05,42,841 including 2,11,033 active infections and 1,01,79715 recoveries. The death toll has climbed to 1,52,093.
Most of the states have received the first batch of coronavirus vaccine doses including Delhi which has received 2,74,000 vaccine doses, followed by Maharashtra receiving over 9 lakh doses and Andhra Pradesh around with 4.7 lakh doses.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during a press conference on Thursday said, "So far, we have received 2,74,000 doses of vaccine from the Centre. Each person will be administered two doses and the Centre provides 10 per cent extra vaccine, taking damage into account. So the 2,74,000 doses will be sufficient for around 1,20,000 health workers."
States and union territories have geared up for the vaccination drive.
In the national capital Delhi, the drive will be launched from the state-run LNJP Hospital by Chief Minister Kejriwal and Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain. Healthcare workers will get the jab in a total of 81 centres. The Union health minister will visit the new OPD Wing of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi to witness the launch of the inoculation drive. He will join doctors and around 100 potential vaccine beneficiaries at the centre.
In Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will launch the vaccination drive from a centre at Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai on Saturday. As many as 4,000 health workers will be administered Covid-19 vaccine every day at nine vaccination centres in the city the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.
In Gujarat, 161 centres will deliver the vaccine, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said.
As many as 700 healthcare workers will be administered the COVID-19 vaccine in Goa, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said.
According to a state government release, 332 locations have been identified for the launch of the drive in Andhra Pradesh.
Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender will take the first jab of the vaccine. He said: "A total of 140 centres have been shortlisted for the distribution of the vaccine. Chief Minister of Telangana K Chandrashekhar Rao has appealed to the MLAs, MPs, and Ministers to part in the inauguration of vaccine distribution program at centres in their constituencies"
A total number of 243 centres have been prepared for the first phase of vaccination drive across the state on January 16, including 10 centres in Bengaluru, Karnataka Health and Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar said.
A total 7,17,439 health warriors will be vaccinated in the initial phase and we are aiming to vaccinate 24,300 people on the first day itself. We have 8,14,500 doses of vaccine and the initial phase is expected to complete within a week, said the minister.
In Kerala, the Health Department has prepared a list of 133 Covid-19 vaccination sites in the State. In Tamil Nadu the vaccines will be administered at 166 centres across the state, Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar said.
Andhra Pradesh has received 4.7 lakh doses of Covishield and 20,000 doses of Covaxin for the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive. A state government release said that 332 locations have been identified for the launch of the drive in Andhra Pradesh. The release said it is expected that in the next 15 days all health care workers in the state will be vaccinated. After 28 days the second dose is to be administered.
Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday received the first batch of Covishield from Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune. As many as 1,46,500 doses of the Covishield vaccine have been received out of which 79,000 are for the Kashmir division and 67,500 are for the Jammu division. Choppers were used to transport the vaccines to far-flung snow-capped areas. The vaccine is being stored at the Divisional cold chain stores at Jammu and Kashmir divisions from where it will be distributed to all districts maintaining the cold chain at all levels. Vaccination would begin today at 30 centres across the Union territory.
A total of 59 sites have been identified in Punjab and 77 in Haryana for the vaccination drive. In
Chandigarh, there will be four sites for administering the Covid-19 vaccine.
In Uttar Pradesh, 311 centres have been identified across the state's 75 districts.
Other states and union territories have also made preparations for the rollout of the vaccine.