Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took the COVID-19 vaccine and was the first to get the jab leading India’s inoculation drive in its second phase in which the coverage has been expanded to include everyone over 60 and those aged between 45-59 who have co-morbidities. Modi, 70, was administered the first dose of the indigenous Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech at around 6.30 am at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi. He later appealed to all those who are eligible to get themselves vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“He is fine after taking the vaccine," said AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria, adding the prime minister was kept under observation for half an hour as per protocol and he left after that. His second dose is due after 28 days. The other vaccine being administered in the country is Covishield from the Oxford-AstraZeneca stable. Thousands of people queued up at government and private medical facilities across the country as India further opened up the world’s largest vaccination programme that started on January 16 for healthcare and sanitation workers.
Amid reports of glitches and some people saying they were finding it difficult to navigate the Co-WIN 2.0 app to register and book an appointment, the Union Health ministry clarified to say the app on Play Store is meant for use only by administrators. Registration and booking for appointments has to be done through the portal, it said. More than one million citizens were registered on the Co-WIN portal till 1 pm, the ministry said.
As the vaccination programme got underway amid hopes it would help control the uptick in COVID cases in several states, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Union ministers Amit Shah and S Jaishankar, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, the Governor of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu Kalraj Mishra and Banwarilal Purohit respectively, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Infosys co-founders N R Narayanamurthy and Kris Gopalakrishnan were among the noted personalties who received their shots.
Doctors from the Medanta hospital administered the vaccine to Shah, a Home Ministry official said. On August 2 last year, Shah, 56, had said on Twitter that he tested positive for COVID-19. He underwent treatment at Medanta Hospital and was discharged after he tested negative for the virus. He was later admitted to the AIIMS for post-COVID treatment.
In Karnataka, a 97-year-old man became the first to receive the vaccine. Some of the beneficiaries were wheelchair bound. “Ramaswami Parthasarathy, 97-year-old, was the first to get vaccinated," Manipal Hospitals said in a statement in Bengaluru.
In the national capital, an old couple, both of whom would soon turn 90, and four elderly family members who survived COVID-19 were among the senior citizens who got the jab. " Our PM today led from the front and got the shot himself. It will motivate others to get vaccinated," said Rakesh Malhotra, a 63-year-old businessman who accompanied his octogenarian parents to the National Heart Institute.
Though registration opened at 9 am, the prime minister was the first off the block as he visited the country’s premier medical institute to take his first dose. “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," Modi tweeted at 7.06 am.
“I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!" Modi’s move to take the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on the very first day of India opening up the inoculation drive should eliminate any hesitancy from the minds of people about the vaccine, Dr Guleria told PTI. Dr Guleria said AIIMS was informed about the prime minister’s visit to the hospital to take the vaccine only late Sunday night.
“As it was a week day, he chose to come early in the morning so as not to cause any inconvenience to patients at the hospital," he added. Sister P Niveda, from Puducherry, administered the shot and was informed only in in the morning.
She told reporters that the prime minister, after getting the jab, remarked, “Laga bhi diya, pata bhi nahin chala (Already done? I didn’t even feel it)." The other nurse, Rosamma Anil, is from Kerala and said it was the happiest day of her life “because our Prime Minister Modiji came to our AIIMS hospital for taking vaccine." Prime Minister Modi also joined a growing list of world leaders who have received the COVID-19 vaccine to instill confidence among the public about the efficacy of the jab. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said by taking Covaxin the prime minister has effectively ended any spread of misinformation and it would also eliminate hesitancy from the minds of people about this home-grown vaccine.
The minister in a tweet said he would take the shot on Tuesday. The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotechsaid the personal example set by the prime minister would give a huge boost to the immunization campaign against coronavirus.
“We express our sincere gratitude to the Honble Prime Minister for reposing his trust in the indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine, COVAXIN. We urge all fellow citizens to not hesitate from taking part in the COVID-19 immunization programme so that the country can bring an end to this public health crisis," the pharma major’s Chairman and Managing Director Krishna Ella said in a statement. In keeping with the electoral promise by the BJP-led NDA ahead of the recent elections in Bihar, Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar said vaccines will be provided free to everybody.
Notwithstanding the votes of confidence from various political leaders and high profile personalities, confusion persisted. “Registration and booking for appointment for #COVID19 vaccination is to be done through #CoWIN Portal: www.cowin.gov.in. There is NO #CoWIN App for beneficiary registration. The App on Play Store is for administrators only," the Union Health ministry tweeted in a bid to clarify matters.
Citizens can register and book an appointment for vaccination, anytime and anywhere, using the Co-WIN 2.0 portal www.cowin.gov.in or through other IT applications such as Aarogya Setu. There is also a walk-in provision for the beneficiaries to get themselves registered at the nearby session site to get vaccinated, it said. The eligible beneficiaries can choose the centre of their choice and book an appointment based on the slots available.
Citizens can register through their mobile number, said the ministry as it also released a user manual to handhold the citizens to register and schedule an appointment for vaccination. “Till the time of vaccination, all the records of registration and appointment can be edited/deleted by the person making the registration. Only when a person gets vaccinated, the record is locked and cannot be edited/deleted," the document stated.
On Monday, the Health Ministry said 15,510 new cases were registered in a span of 24 hours. Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 8,293, followed by Kerala with 3,254 cases while Punjab has reported 579 new cases. The three states along with Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka contributed to 87.25 per cent of the fresh cases.