A healthcare worker at Cooper Hospital, Mumbai
A healthcare worker at Cooper Hospital, Mumbai
BL Soni/ FPJ Photo

India is all set to kick off the much-awaited vaccination drive against Covid-19 on January 16, 2021. The Central government shared this information in a press release on Saturday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called it the world's largest inoculation programme. The government will give top priority to the three-crore healthcare and frontline workers. The government took the decision at a high-level meeting, where PM Modi reviewed the status of COVID-19 and vaccine preparedness across states and union territories.

“After a detailed review, it was decided that in view of the forthcoming festivals including Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu etc, the COVID-19 vaccination will start from January 16, 2021,” it said.

After healthcare and frontline workers, priority will be given to those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities, together numbering around 27 crore, a government statement said.

The PM tweeted that India will take a landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19 on January 16. “Starting that day, India's nationwide vaccination drive begins. Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis (sanitation workers,” PM Modi said.

India had recently granted emergency use authorisation to two vaccines, Oxford's Covishield being manufactured by Serum Institute in India and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. Both vaccines, the statement from the Health Ministry said, have established safety and immunogenicity.

There are 2,24,190 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which constitutes 2.16 per cent of the total caseload so far of over 1.04 crore, according to the latest Health Ministry data. More than 1.5 lakh people have died so far. During the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas address, PM Modi said that India is ready with two vaccines for the protection of humanity. He added that the world is not only waiting eagerly for it but also watching how the country runs the globe’s biggest vaccination programme.

More than 79 lakh beneficiaries have been already registered on the platform, the statement said. It was noted that for the vaccination, 2,360 participants were trained during a national-level exercise (training of trainers) comprising state immunisation officers, cold chain officers, IEC officials and development partners among others. More than 61,000 programme managers, two lakh vaccinators and 3.7 lakh other vaccination team members have been trained so far as part of training at states, districts and block levels, it said.

Three phases of dry runs have been conducted across the country, with the third dry run conducted on Friday across 615 districts covering 4895 session sites in 33 states and UTs.

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Free Press Journal