Don't fall for any rumours, says PM Modi as India launches world's biggest COVID vaccination drive

Rahul M
·15-min read

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kicked off the COVID-19 vaccine drive in India, calling it historic and congratulating the citizens after "months of sleepless, prolonged effort".

Modi, while launching the vaccination drive, teared up while talking about the struggle-filled journey of lakhs of people who worked to eradicate the deadly disease from the country. "Some of them could not even return home," he says.

READ: Covid Vaccines in India Cheaper and Better, Don't Fall for Rumours: PM Modi Kicks Off Rollout

Meanwhile, Manish Kumar, a sanitation worker, became the first person to receive COVID-19 vaccine jab at AIIMS, Delhi in presence of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

Healthcare workers at Delhi hospital treated with chocolates, cakes, juices after COVID-19 vaccine shots

Healthcare workers at a hospital here who received the jab on the first day of India's massive vaccination drive against COVID-19 were treated with chocolates, cakes and juices after the shots, bringing smiles on the faces of many after initial apprehension.

Some of them recalled the difficult months spent during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital (RGSSH), those vaccinated were surprised with these gift hampers.

Dr Ajeet Jain, nodal officer of COVID-19 and cardio surgeon at the hospital, said, 'The gift hampers were not pre-planned. It just happened and we are happy that they brought smiles on the faces of volunteers. We will think about whether to continue or not.' Each day 100 people at this centre will be administered the vaccine.

Dr Vikas Dogra, head of the pulmonology department, was the first health worker who received the vaccination on Saturday at the hospital.

'I am happy that I was the first person who got the vaccine at the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital. I didn't feel any difficulty during and after the vaccination. To those who are spreading rumours that the vaccine is not safe, I just want to say that they are not experts. We were constantly tracking the progress of vaccine. It is a baseless thing and I want to tell people not to believe in rumours,' he said.

After the vaccination, the volunteers were put under observation for half an hour.

Dr Jain said that they have an emergency room for volunteers who feel unwell after the vaccination.

'We have an emergency room with four to five beds. We put the volunteer under observation for half an hour after the vaccination and if anything happens, then he or she will be attended by the doctors. As of now, everything is going smooth. The volunteers who have come out of the centre after getting the vaccine are fine,' he said.

India under PM Modi has fought most successful battle against coronavirus in the world: Amit Shah

'The whole world for about a year has been fighting against corona, many people have lost lives.This was probably one of the toughest fights that humanity has fought, using knowledge, innovations and mutual cooperation,' the union home minister said.

Noting that during the initial days of the outbreak, some experts had expressed worry about a few countries, including India, on how they will manage with a huge population and not so prepared heath infrastructure, Shah said there was only lab in the country that could undertake testing for the infection.

'Today we have more than 2,000,' he said.

The main difference in the fight that India fought against the virus compared to the rest of the world is that the entire population of the country fought it with unity, he said, as he claimed that India has less fatality rate and high recovery rate.

'Today with two vaccines produced in the country, we have taken the fight against corona to the final stage,' he said, even as he defended the decision to administer the vaccine to frontline warriors, and hit out those spreading misinformation on it.

When will poor will get free COVID vaccine, asks Akhilesh

As the coronavirus vaccine was launched on Saturday, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav sought to know from the government how the drive will be conducted and when the poor will get the shot free of cost.

The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said he has faith in doctors of the country but not the government.

He also suggested that the BJP people should first line up in queues and get themselves vaccinated as the party conducts all programmes in a grand manner. 'After one year, when the SP will come to power, we will ensure free vaccine for all,” he said while asking from the government when the poor will get free vaccines. Earlier in the month, Yadav had triggered a controversy, saying he will not get himself injected with a “BJP vaccine” against coronavirus.

Later, Yadav had tried to make amends, saying he was not referring to the scientists.

On Saturday, he sought to know if the staff put on vaccination duty has been given proper training and all logistics regarding the vaccine have been taken care of.

“I would also like to know if proper funds are being given for vaccination centres, else how the work will be done? We also want to know if there are proper arrangements for storage and transportation of the vaccine. We have full faith in our doctors but not in the government.” “It is good that coronavirus vaccine has come out but only believe what the doctors say, not Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath,” he said.

AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said, "I want to reassure everyone that the vaccine is safe. It is efficacious. We have to vaccinate a huge number of people and therefore we can't start being very choosy. We must have confidence in our researchers, scientists and regulatory authorities.”

Vaccines in India will be available at much cheaper rates than options in other countries, without the necessity of being stored at extremely low temperatures, added Modi.

Yahoo Talk: Answering your doubts on India's COVID vaccination drive

Highlights from PM Modi’s address to the nation

Billed as the world's largest vaccination program, covering the entire length and breadth of the country, the drive aims to first inoculate millions of its healthcare and frontline workers and reach an estimated 3 crore people by the end of its first phase.

A total of 3,006 session sites across all States and Union Territories were virtually connected during the launch. Around 100 beneficiaries were vaccinated at each session site on the inaugural day.

A medical worker inoculates a doctor with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP) (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a doctor with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP) (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a colleague with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a colleague with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a colleague with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a colleague with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
A nurse prepares to administer a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine to health workers at the KC General hospital in Bangalore on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Manjunath KIRAN / AFP) (Photo by MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A nurse prepares to administer a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine to health workers at the KC General hospital in Bangalore on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Manjunath KIRAN / AFP) (Photo by MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)
A healthcare worker poses for a photo beside a poster about the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Kalawati hospital in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP) (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)
A healthcare worker poses for a photo beside a poster about the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Kalawati hospital in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP) (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker stands in a vaccination room while waiting to inoculate colleagues with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Rajawadi Hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker stands in a vaccination room while waiting to inoculate colleagues with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Rajawadi Hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers wait in line to receive a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers wait in line to receive a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker prepares to inoculate a colleague with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker prepares to inoculate a colleague with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
A security guard keeps watch at a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine centre New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
A security guard keeps watch at a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine centre New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
Medical workers wait to be inoculated with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a hospital in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
Medical workers wait to be inoculated with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a hospital in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a colleague with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a colleague with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Medical workers wait to be inoculated with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a hospital in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
Medical workers wait to be inoculated with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a hospital in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan displays a vial of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan displays a vial of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Medical workers arrange boxes of Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP) (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)
Medical workers arrange boxes of Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP) (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a doctor with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP) (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a doctor with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP) (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a security guard with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP) (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)
A medical worker inoculates a security guard with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP) (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)
A health worker gives a thumbs-up gesture as she waits in line to receive a dose of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Cooper hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP) (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)
A health worker gives a thumbs-up gesture as she waits in line to receive a dose of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Cooper hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP) (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers wait for the start of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination drive at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers wait for the start of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination drive at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers queue to receive a dose of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Cooper hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP) (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers queue to receive a dose of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Cooper hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP) (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers wait for the start of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination drive at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers wait for the start of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination drive at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in New Delhi in January 16, 2021. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
A staff member of the Rajawadi Hospital holds the first token to be given to a health worker to receive the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
A staff member of the Rajawadi Hospital holds the first token to be given to a health worker to receive the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
Security and healthcare workers wait for the start of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination drive at the Max hospital in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP) (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)
Security and healthcare workers wait for the start of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination drive at the Max hospital in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP) (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)
A staff member of the Rajawadi Hospital hands over the first token to a health worker in line to receive the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
A staff member of the Rajawadi Hospital hands over the first token to a health worker in line to receive the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
Frontline health workers queue to receive a dose of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Cooper hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP) (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)
Frontline health workers queue to receive a dose of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Cooper hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP) (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)
Frontline health workers queue to receive a dose of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Cooper hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP) (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)
Frontline health workers queue to receive a dose of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Cooper hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP) (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)

Several hospitals across the country have been decorated with flowers and balloons where people will be inoculated.

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan visites AIIMS Delhi to witness the launch of the vaccination programme.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also witnessed the launch of COVID-19 vaccination programme at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital today. "Doctors, nursing and sanitation staff will be given vaccine today," said Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of the hospital.

BHU Hospital in Varanasi was decorated with balloons ahead of the Covid-19 vaccine drive. "Covid protocols will be strictly followed and vaccination will be administered to people in slots to avoid crowding," said Dr NP Singh, Additional CMO of BHU.

Preparations are also underway at the civil hospital in Amritsar.

In Telangana, Area Hospital, Nampally in Hyderabad has been decorated with flowers and balloons ahead of the start of the first phase of nation-wide COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Patna's Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) has also been decorated.

Karnataka's Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute has also been decked up for the drive.

Over one crore people (1,05,27,683) have been infected with Covid-19 so far and the death toll is close to 1.52 lakh according to Friday's health ministry update. There are over 2.13 lakh active COVID-19 cases in India.

In the next phases of the vaccination drive, people aged over 50, and those who are below 50 years but have serious health conditions or co-morbidities will be vaccinated, according to the health ministry.

Dry-runs have been held at vaccination centres across the country with lakhs of healthcare staff across districts being trained.

The drugs regulatory body of India has currently approved two vaccines. Pune-based Serum Institute of India has developed the Covishield vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. while the Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad's Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Medical Council of research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology.

The vaccination programme in the country will use Co-WIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work), an online digital platform developed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which will facilitate real-time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries for COVID-19 vaccine. This digital platform will assist programme managers across all levels while conducting vaccination sessions.

A dedicated 24x7 call centre - 1075 - has also been established for addressing the queries related to Covid-19 pandemic, vaccine rollout and the Co-WIN software.

The full initial procurement amount of 1.65 crore doses of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines against Covid-19 have been allocated to all States/UTs in the proportion of Health Care Workers database, the Union Health Ministry stated.

Most of the states have received the first batch of the coronavirus doses including Delhi which has received 2,74,000 doses of vaccine, followed by Maharashtra receiving over 9 lakh doses and Andhra Pradesh around with 4.7 lakh doses.