Prime Minister launches world’s biggest vaccination drive
Launching the world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccination drive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 16 said India-made vaccines were safe and asked people not to believe rumours.
Congratulating all Indians and the country’s scientists on the occasion, he said the world had not seen a vaccination drive of this scale and noted India’s response to the pandemic was acknowledged globally.
“The vaccines have come about in the shortest time span and this is an achievement for India and its contribution towards the battle against COVID. There are 100 countries which do not have a population of three crore but India in the first phase will inoculate three crore healthcare and frontline workers and, in the next step, we will take this number to 30 crore. There are only three countries in the world with more than 30 crore population: India, the U.S. and China. Hence, this is going to be the biggest vaccination drive,” Mr. Modi said.
On the first day, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) medical director Randeep Guleria and NITI Aayog member (Health) V.K. Paul were among the first to be vaccinated, along with a sanitation worker at AIIMS, Delhi. Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla also took the vaccination on Saturday.
Stating around 60% children of the world will get vaccines manufactured in India, the Prime Minister said the world put its trust on India’s vaccine science and research. He added, “Indian vaccines are much cheaper than foreign vaccines and easier and more conducive to India’s conditions. There are vaccines abroad whose single dose costs up to ₹5,000 and have to be kept in freezers at minus 70 degrees temperature. India-manufactured vaccines are best suited for us.”
He further cautioned beneficiaries against lowering their guards after getting the vaccine shot and said people should remember that the vaccines comprised two shots and had a gap of close to a month between them.
“The vaccine starts working 14 days after the complete round is finished. But don’t lower your guard during or after vaccination. The mantra ‘Dawai Bhi, Kadaai Bhi’ should be followed, and the use of mask and social distancing norms is essential,” Mr. Modi said.
Stating that the vaccines had been introduced after trials and dry runs, the Prime Minister said that people should safeguard against rumours and, on an emotional note, pointed out that India had reached this stage today only because of the sacrifice of the healthcare workers.
“They fought for every single life. During the pandemic, they stayed away from their families and many never returned. India has so far fought COVID-19 with self-confidence and self-reliance and we have to keep up this spirit even during the vaccination programme. Today, by vaccinating this vulnerable population first, we are recognising their service,” he said.