Union health minister Harsh Vardhan displays a vial of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Saturday. (Bloomberg Photo )
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan displays a vial of Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Saturday. (Bloomberg Photo )

I’ll wait for my turn: Harsh Vardhan’s comeback on why he is not taking vaccine

As many as 165,714 people received the shot on the first day, the health ministry said.
By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 08:15 PM IST

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday hit out at those “misleading” people against the Covid-19 vaccines that were rolled out across the country in the government's mammoth inoculation drive in the morning. Vardhan said a small section is spreading rumours about the vaccines, their utility and safety but a large number of people, including eminent doctors, received the shot with great joy and enthusiasm.

“A debate has started that why are health ministers or people's representatives not taking the vaccine. I was asked why I am not taking the vaccine? I told them that I will wait for my turn, which will come when people above 50 years of age will be administered the vaccine,” Vardhan said.

He was referring to the second stage of the immunisation drive, in which those above 50 years of age, and those below 50 years of age with comorbidities or with a high risk of infection, will be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease.

The health minister's remark comes after a war of words between him and Congress leader Manish Tewari on Twitter. “If the vaccine is so safe and reliable and the efficacy of the vaccine is beyond question then how is it that not a single functionary of the government has stepped forward to get themselves vaccinated as it has happened in other countries around the world?" Tewari had asked earlier.

Following this, the health minister tweeted photos of health workers being administered the jab and accused the Congress leader and his party of being passionate about spreading distrust and rumours.

Shortly after the Union health minister’s post, Tewari replied. “Concerns that I have articulated are real & not imagined. It is not fear Mongering.Look what is happening in Norway. It may be a different vaccine but do not hide behind vaccine nationalism. Expected better of you Sir,” he tweeted.

He was referring to the death of at least 23 people shortly after receiving their first dose of a vaccine in Norway. Of them, 13 have been autopsied, with the results suggesting that common side effects may have contributed to severe reactions in frail, elderly people, Norwegian Medicines Agency was quoted as saying by news agency Bloomberg.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Covid-19 immunisation drive on Saturday. Two shots manufactured in India, one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and the other by Bharat Biotech, are being administered during the drive. Nearly 30 million health and frontline workers will be inoculated in the first phase. As many as 191,181 people received the shot on the first day, the health ministry said.

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