By Aakanksha Khajuria
New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) As India begins world’s largest immunization drive amid concerns over rushed approval to the vaccines by the drug regulator, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Saturday assured people that there is no need to be afraid and urged them to have faith in the experts who gave their nod.
As many as three lakh healthcare workers are being inoculated on the day with doses of either Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin or Oxford’s Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India. Several experts have, however, raised concerns over the hasty approval accorded to Covaxin despite lack of adequate efficacy data.
“There is no need to be afraid. Experts are right,” Satyendar Jain told IANS on being asked about the vaccine hesitancy among people rising out of lack of trust on the regulatory process. The drug regulator had approved the two jabs for the restricted emergency use on January 3.
Covaxin has been in the spotlight since the recommendation. It’s approval for the immunization programme has drawn flak from public health advocacy groups, researchers, scientists and activists in the domain.
It was only administered to beneficiaries in the central government hospitals on the day.
Besides this, the health minister said that he met all the people who received the vaccine and nobody experienced any difficulties post-inoculation. Some of the side-effects of the vaccines are headache, fatigue, pain in muscle, injection site tenderness, weakness, chills and nausea.
In Delhi, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has been allotted to six Centre-run hospitals, while 75 Delhi government and private hospitals received Covishield. The Delhi government has set the target to inoculated 8,100 healthcare workers at 81 vaccination sites on the day.
“First to receive the vaccination will be health workers, then frontline workers such as civil defence volunteers and police officials, then people above 50 years, and then people below 50 years but with co-morbidities,” added Jain.
Jain, along with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited Delhi-government run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital to inspect the preparations made for the vaccination drive in the city, as the first phase of the drive began across the country.
“The vaccination process is running smoothly, and the people who have been vaccinated are not experiencing any difficulties or side-effects. I want to request people to not pay heed to any kind of misinformation or rumours because the vaccine is entirely safe according to the experts,” Kejriwal assured.
Nationwide, almost three lakh beneficiaries, belonging to the priority groups, are being administered the silver bullet at over 3,006 vaccination sites across the country. Around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site.
The world hopes this vaccination drives across other nations as well marks the beginning of the end of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
(Aakanksha Khajuria can be contacted at [email protected])