India kicked off the largest COVID-19 immunisation drive in the world, with over a lakh vaccinations today. Across the country, 3,352 immunisation sessions were held, and 1,91,181 healthcare and frontline workers received either of the two vaccines, Covishield or Covaxin. An additional 3,429 persons were vaccinated in defence institutions.
This would be the first of the three crore healthcare and frontline workers that the government targets to vaccinate over the next few months. The first day’s number, however, is only about 63 per cent of the Union health ministry’s expected count of beneficiaries for the day.
On January 15, the Union health ministry had said that the drive would be conducted across 3,006 session sites, and 100 beneficiaries would be vaccinated at each of these sites. In case of Delhi, for instance, where 81 sites were doing the vaccination, 4,319 beneficiaries received the shot, a little over half of the expected number of around 8,100 beneficiaries.
Certain sections of doctors also expressed their reservations to take Covaxin. The residents doctors association at Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia (six central hospitals in Delhi received Covaxin) citing lack of “complete trial” data, requested to be vaccinated with Covishield instead. The Centre has, however, said that the vaccinees would not have any choice in deciding which vaccine they get.
Of the two vaccines, ministry officials said that Serum Institute’s Covishield was supplied to all states, while Covaxin was sent to 12 states only. These include Bihar, Assam, Delhi, Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
Uttar Pradesh (21,291), Andhra Pradesh (18,412) and Maharashtra (18,328) did the highest number of vaccinations, while some of the northeast states such as Sikkim (120), Tripura (355), and Mizoram (314) had the least number of beneficiaries.
Among states, Andhra Pradesh also had the highest number of sessions with Covishield (332), followed by Gujarat (161), Madhya Pradesh (150) and Kerala (133). A total of 3,351 sessions were held, and 16,755 personel were involved in organising the immunisation sites.
According to Manohar Agnani, Joint Secretary, Reproductive And Child Health, Union Health Ministry, told the media that on day one, the CoWin app experienced a few issues such as a delay in uploading of beneficiary list at some session sites. Agnani was briefing reporters after Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan reviewed the progress with health ministers of all states and UTs.