On Saturday, India began what is being touted as the world's biggest vaccination drive. Two vaccines are being used at present - Covishield and Covaxin - and an estimated three crore people will be inoculated in the first round. But even as people across the country lined up to get the shot, others remain skeptical about how safe or effective the two vaccines are.
As such, political leaders across the country are making a concerted effort to alleviate fears, reiterating that the two vaccines are safe to use. "I want to say to all not to pay attention to rumours and misinformation. The experts say vaccines are safe and there is no need to worry," said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
His Punjab counterpart, Captain Amarinder Singh had a similar message, albeit delivered in a slightly unusual manner. "Even the Queen of England has had it, she is 93-years-old, her husband who is 99-years-old has had it. So, what is the fear? There is no fear," news agency ANI quoted Singh as saying.
Expressing his happiness over the fact that the inoculation drive had begun, Singh noted that scientists and doctors had said that the vaccine was safe.
"I've written to the PM to request free vaccine for the lower-income group," he added.
For many, the concerns over the vaccine stem from the use of Covaxin even before data from the third phase of the trials can be gathered. Officials had earlier said that those getting vaccinated would not be offered a choice between the two vaccines, and on Saturday, those receiving a Covaxin jab had to sign a separate consent form.