Delhi begins Covid-19 vaccination drive; 4,300 heatlhcare workers get shots

First dose of Covid-19 vaccine being administered in Delhi.

After witnessing three waves of COVID-19 which has claimed over 10,000 lives so far, Delhi began its vaccination drive on Saturday administering the jab to over 4,300 health workers amid cheers and applause, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal affirming that the vaccines are safe and urging people not to fall for rumours.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that the drive was successfully conducted on the first day.

Thirty-four-year-old Manish Kumar, who is a machine operator at AIIMS, was the first person in the national capital to get the jab in the presence of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

Against a target of 8,117 health workers, a total of 4,319 were administered vaccines on the first day in 11 districts of Delhi, official figures showed.

According to official data, one "severe" and 52 "minor" cases of AEFI (adverse events following immunisation) were reported among health workers who received the shots.

A total of 32 heathcare workers, including seven women, were vaccinated at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital, while 45 persons got the jab at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital.

Although there is a target of vaccinating 100 persons at every centre daily, the numbers were low on the first day with officials citing various reasons including that the registration process took longer than expected.

An official, however, added that the process will get smoother and the numbers will go up with each passing day.

"I feel proud and humbled to be a part of this historic moment," said Biji Tomy, a nurse who got the first vaccine shot at Delhi government-run LNJP hospital, as the countrywide COVID-19 immunisation drive began on Saturday.

A similar sentiment prevailed on the first day of the exercise among healthcare workers in Delhi who received the shots at 81 sites chosen for the drive.

Vikas Dogra, the head of pulmonology department at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, who also received the vaccine shot, urged people not to believe in rumours.

"I didn't feel anything after vaccination. Those who are spreading rumour that the vaccine is not safe, I want to say that they are not experts. It is a baseless thing and I want to tell people that they should not believe in rumours," he told PTI.

At the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital (RGSSH), healthcare workers who received the jab were greeted with gift hampers.

According to the Union health ministry, 4,319 persons were vaccinated at 81 centres in the national capital.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the world's largest vaccination drive against the pandemic.

The Delhi health minister said that it is a big day for the whole country as the vaccination started, adding "we think that the corona should end now in the country."

Manish Kumar, who became the first person in Delhi to get the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS, said he had himself asked the hospital authorities to be vaccinated first as his colleagues chosen for the exercise were "scared" to get the jab.

Kumar, whose mother Laxmi Rani also works at the hospital, said he was not at all nervous, had a good sleep and was "proud of getting the vaccine".

"I did not know that I am the first person to receive the vaccine. I had a good sleep last night, came here (hospital) in the morning and talked to the other staff who were to get the shot," he said.

"Many of them were scared. So, I went to my seniors and said I should be given the vaccine first. I wanted to prove to my colleagues that there is no need to be scared," Kumar told PTI.

Kejriwal on Saturday urged people not to believe in rumours and listen to experts who say COVID-19 vaccines are safe as he inspected the COVID-19 vaccination campaign at LNJP Hospital and interacted with some health workers who received the shot and lauded their contribution in fighting the pandemic.

"I have interacted with those vaccinated. No one has any problem. All are happy that they will get rid of coronavirus," the chief minister said.

Earlier in the day, Vardhan said that the two vaccines -- the indigenous Covaxin from Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable -- were a 'sanjivani', life infusing, in the fight against the pandemic.

"These vaccines are our 'sanjivini' in our fight against the pandemic. We have won the battle against polio and now we have reached the decisive phase of winning the war against COVID. I want to congratulate all frontline workers on this day," he told reporters shortly after the vaccine shots were administered.

The vaccination exercise was conducted at 81 sites across all 11 districts in Delhi. Six central government hospitals -- AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, RML Hospital, Kalawati Saran Children Hospital and two ESI hospitals -- are also part of the drive.

Besides LNJP Hospital, Delhi-government run GTB Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, DDU Hospital, BSA Hospital, Delhi State Cancer Institute, ILBS Hospital are among the vaccination sites.

Meanwhile, Delhi BJP leaders and workers celebrated the launch of the vaccination drive by distributing sweets and giving roses to health workers outside vaccination centres in the city.

Delhi BJP president inaugurated the vaccination drive at Shanti Mukund Hospital. Sweets were distributed to the people and health workers on the occasion.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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