India on Saturday kick-started one of the world's biggest COVID vaccination drives, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the first phase of the country's vaccine programme, which is slated to witness nearly 30 million Indian healthcare workers receiving either Covishield or Covaxin.
"There are more than 100 countries in the world which have a population of less than 30 million. But India, in the first phase itself, plans to inoculate 30 million of its citizens," PM Modi said in his video address to mark the vaccine drive's inauguration.
इतिहास में इस प्रकार का और इतने बड़े स्तर का टीकाकरण अभियान पहले कभी नहीं चलाया गया है।— PMO India (@PMOIndia) January 16, 2021
दुनिया के 100 से भी ज्यादा ऐसे देश हैं जिनकी जनसंख्या 3 करोड़ से कम है।
और भारत वैक्सीनेशन के अपने पहले चरण में ही 3 करोड़ लोगों का टीकाकरण कर रहा है: PM#LargestVaccineDrive
Around 300,000 healthcare workers at 3,006 sites across India are scheduled to receive the jab on Saturday.
Talking to Sputnik, healthcare workers at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi expressed nervousness and excitement over receiving the first vaccine shots.
"Since the call, I have been a little nervous. There is a sense of fear among us. As the time is coming near the ward, my heart rate is increasing. The fear of reaction is there," Paramjeet Kaur, a healthcare worker, told Sputnik before going in to receive her vaccine shot.
Sanjeev Sharma, another healthcare professional, says that he was excited at the prospect of receiving the shot.
"I feel it is for the nation and we [healthcare workers] had to take the initiative to build the confidence of the entire nation," said Sharma.
Shaheen Riyazuddin, a nurse, said "I was anxious but it's done now. We will have to monitor ourselves for the next 28 days before we get the next dose. We haven't been given any kind of instructions to follow. I feel its a victory for the nation."
India's vaccination programme will be divided into phases, which will witness its entire 1.3+ billion population vaccinated with either Covaxin or Covishield. While Covaxin was conceptualised in the countryby Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech, Covisheld was jointly developed by the University of Oxford and British pharma company Astra Zeneca. In India, Covishield is being manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).