‘Not the time to lower your guard’
Cardio thoracic surgeon Dr Jose Chacko Periappuram, 63, known for performing the first heart transplant surgery in Kerala, received the vaccine in an Ernakulam centre on Saturday, as India rolled out one of the world’s biggest Covid vaccination programme.
At least 300 million people will receive one of two vaccines approved by the drugs regulatory authority for emergency use in India: Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech Ltd and Covishield, developed by Oxford-Astra Zeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India in Pune. Covaxin is in the third phase of the clinical trial and its efficacy results have still not been released.
Periappuram, a Padma Shri recipient, received the shot at the Ernakulam government hospital, one of the 3,351 sites earmarked to vaccinate the recipients.
“I am really proud of our scientists and health workers. Happy health workers were given the first preference,” he said.
“It is just like any other vaccine or injection. There is no need of any apprehension or fear. I think doctors and health workers taking shot in the first phase will give confidence to others,” he said.
Periappuram, who works in a private hospital in Ernakulam, heads a charitable organisation which helps heart patients who are unable to afford treatment.
“It is a good beginning. But it is not the time to lower our guard,” he said. The government has warned recipients of the vaccine to continue to wear masks and practise physical distancing, as well as hand hygiene to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread before the second dose of the vaccine is given.