Prominent leaders take COVID vaccine with start of next phase

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New Delhi, Mar 1 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu were among the host of top leaders who took the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Monday with the start of the next phase of the inoculation drive.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and NCP president Sharad Pawar also took the jab.

Governors Kalraj Mishra of Rajasthan and Banwarilal Purohit of Tamil Nadu also received the shot, as well as Union minister Jitendra Singh as the country further opened its vaccination programme that started on January 16 for healthcare and sanitary workers.

Though the registration opened at 9 am, the prime minister was the first off the block. He visited the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi early in the morning to take his first dose and appeal to everyone eligible to get themselves inoculated.

'Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS. Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19,' Modi tweeted at 7.06 am.

'I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!' he said.

Shah, who had earlier tested positive for the virus, also took the first dose, officials said.

Doctors from the Medanta Hospital in Delhi administered the vaccine to Shah, a Home Ministry official said.

The Vice President took his first dose of the vaccine at Government Medical College, Chennai.

'I appeal to all the eligible people to get themselves vaccinated proactively and join in the fight against novel coronavirus,' Naidu tweeted.

Jaishankar got a dose of the indigenously-developed Covaxin. 'Felt secure, will travel safely,' he added.

Kumar was administered the dose at the IGIMS hospital in Patna in presence of Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey and appealed to the people that they do not let their guard down in the wake of COVID-19 active cases coming down drastically in the state.

After receiving the shot, Patnaik said: 'Grateful to our scientists, health workers for their race against time to deliver the vaccines to people.' Pawar, his wife Pratibha Pawar, and daughter and MP Supriya Sule, received the first dose of AstraZeneca- Oxford's Covishield vaccine at a civic hospital in Maharashtra.

Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra took the first dose at Raj Bhawan in Jaipur, while Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit in Chennai.

Union minister Jitendra Singh, who took the jab at AIIMS Delhi. 'Let all join the #COVID-free India movement led by PM@narendramodi,' Singh tweeted.

Dravidar Kazhagam president K Veeramani also took the shot at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai, officials said.

Among those who got inoculated at a private hospital in Gandhinagar was Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani's wife Anjali, who said she had taken the vaccine to 'send a message that people need not fear and must get vaccinated to defeat coronavirus'. PTI TEAM HMB