One small jab, a giant leap for Delhi
A total of 4,319 healthcare workers — 53.3% of those registered — received the Covid-19 vaccine in Delhi on Saturday, becoming the first batch of people to be inoculated as India launched one of the biggest immunisation campaigns to control the coronavirus disease.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal assured people about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, saying “there is no need to worry” and urged people to continue to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. State health minister Satyendar Jain described the drive as successful.
Experts attributed the low turnout mostly to vaccine hesitancy but added that since no major adverse events were reported on Saturday, more people will join the drive on Monday.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the Lok Nayak hospital where 32 healthcare workers turned up for vaccination.
While the next Covid-19 vaccination will be held on Monday at the same centres, each site has been allowed to vaccinate a maximum of 100 people a day.
“I want to say to all not to pay attention to rumours and misinformation. The experts say vaccines are safe and there is no need to worry,” Kejriwal said.
“Every person who has been vaccinated is happy, nobody is experiencing any problems. We have started this at 81 sites, and we will increase this number to 175 in the coming days. As and when the vaccine supply increases, we will start vaccination at 1,000 sites,” Kejriwal said after inspecting the arrangements at Lok Nayak hospital.
The inoculation drive was launched at 81 centres or vaccination sites in Delhi with just one serious adverse event following immunization (AEFI) reported in the south district. Of the 4,319 beneficiaries, 51 reported minor reactions such as rashes, swelling at the site of injection and fever. South and southwest districts reported the highest number of minor AEFI with each reporting 11 such cases.
The exercise proceeded smoothly at all centres with no major glitches being reported from anywhere.
The Delhi heath minister said once the 240,000 registered healthcare workers are vaccinated, nearly 600,000 frontline workers will be next in line.
Senior government officials said the turnout was better in the city’s private hospitals with Max Saket vaccinating all of its 100 registered beneficiaries. Sir Ganga Ram hospital vaccinated 88 healthcare workers, while Indraprastha Apollo saw 72 of them.
Among the government hospitals, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) vaccinated 95 people with a couple of them being turned away with fever and other symptoms.
The drive started after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation, after 11am. Almost all centres, including GTB hospital and AIIMS, had installed LED televisions to live broadcast the PM’s speech which was shown to the beneficiaries to boost their morale.
At AIIMS, a sanitation worker, Manish Kumar, was the first to get the jab. He was followed by AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria and NITI Ayog member Dr VK Paul with his wife Dr Shashi Paul – all three were administered a dose of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
Allaying apprehensions over Covaxin, Dr Guleria said, “We may keep arguing about which vaccine is good and which is better, at the end of the day all the vaccines that are safe and efficacious will help in saving lives and reducing mortality..”
Dr Suneela Garg, professor of community medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College said, “Vaccine hesitancy had a major role to play when it came to the low vaccination rate on Saturday. Many people were comparing the two vaccines. But, with no major adverse events reported, I think more people will come forward in the coming days.”