In Kolkata, Covid-19 vaccination brings a passport to normal life for some

AMRI is one of the five private hospitals that have been allowed to administer the vaccine to its own frontline including health workers.
Twenty-four-year old Nivedita Gope from Tripura had joined Emami group’s AMRI Hospitals as part of the nursing staff in November 2019, just months ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic hit India.

Since then, she has not been home. The shot today would be a passport of sorts to reunite with her family after more than a year.

“I thought it best to stay here during the pandemic. There was a fear of spreading the infection and there were patients to take care of,” Gope said while waiting for her shot on the first day of the vaccination drive in India.

AMRI is one of the five private hospitals that have been allowed to administer the vaccine to its own frontline including health workers.

Across its three super speciality centres in Kolkata and Bhubaneswar, there are about 5,000 health workers on AMRI's rosters. The vaccination in Kolkata, however, is being done at the clinic. But as beneficiaries wait for their turn, there are mixed feelings of hope and fear. It’s the fear of the unknown and apprehensions of an adverse reaction from the shot.

For them, there were words of encouragement from West Bengal Urban Development Minister, Firhad Hakim.

Emerging from the PG (Presidency General, Hakim said, “I told them that I participated in the vaccine trial and I have taken both doses. I am well and, in fact, feel more energised now.” Hakim was the first volunteer for the Covaxin Phase III trial in Kolkata.

“I feel as though I am not 62 but 42,” he said.

The minister said that he would be visiting all the centres to oversee the process. There are about 19 vaccination centres in Kolkata and 207 across the state.

Sources in hospitals said that there were glitches with the digital platform, Co-WIN app, on Friday and beneficiaries had not received messages. Hospitals had to select their 100 beneficiaries manually. However, health officials said that it had not impacted the process. Hakim, too, said that the process was underway as envisaged.

About 6,00,000 frontline including health workers would be vaccinated in West Bengal in the first phase.

Hakim said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been monitoring the process since morning. “The health secretary has been receiving regular calls from her,” he said. Banerjee would be doing a web conference at 1pm today with health officials and health workers.

“It’s a thrilling day today. We are looking forward to a Corona-free West Bengal, a Corono-free India and a Corona-free world,” he said reassuringly.



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