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India’s Big Vaccination Day

After the 10-month dark tunnel that upended millions of lives in 2020, a shed of light has given hope to people in 2021. India is all set to kick off what is touted to be the world’s largest vaccination drive against Covid-19 on January 16. More than one crore cases and 1.5 lakh fatalities later, India took its first steps out of the pandemic with shots of the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines being administered at medical centres across the country to a collective sigh of relief that this could finally be the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 trauma.

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.

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 an inaugural day, the union health ministry has said. The Centre has planned to vaccinate around 3 lakh healthcare workers at 2,934 session sites on the first day of the inoculation drive. Over 1.6 lakh healthcare and sanitary workers at the frontline of India’s COVID-19 battle got their first jabs on Saturday as PM Narendra Modi launched one of the world’s biggest coronavirus vaccine rolled out the world’s largest vaccination drive against the pandemic.

The government has already said the cost of vaccinating these priority groups would be borne by the Centre and ₹480 crores have already been disbursed to the States from the PM CARES fund for meeting the vaccination expense. In the first phase, government and private-sector health care workers including Integrated Child Development Services(ICDS) workers, will receive the vaccine.

The vaccination programme in the country will use Co-WIN, 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 24×7 call centre – 1075 – has also been established for addressing the queries related to Covid-19 pandemic, vaccine rollout and the Co-WIN software.

The Ministry of External Affairs has so far not shared details of India’s vaccine export plan but emphasized that the Prime Minister has already said that India’s pharmaceutical manufacturing capability would be available to the world. “As you know, the vaccination process is just starting in India. It is too early to give a specific response on the supplies to other countries as we are still assessing production schedules and availability to take decisions in this regard. This may take some time”, said the MEA spokesperson.

By Karishma Gwalani

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