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‘Tremendous relief’, says health minister

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As India launched the “world’s largest vaccination drive” against novel coronavirus on Saturday, Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Today is perhaps the day of tremendous relief for all of us in the past one year.” Vardhan interacted with the health ministers of all the states and union territories and took stock of the COVID-19 vaccine drive across the country.

“The vaccines have been presented before the country like ‘Sanjeevani’ for us, in the fight against COVID19,” the health minister said, adding, “The fight was gradually heading towards victory, now it seems almost definite that the step towards victory will be taken quickly.”

India started its COVID-19 vaccination drive with healthcare workers and frontline workers. Nearly 3 crore essential service providers will receive COVID-19 vaccines during the initial phase of vaccination drive.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the nationwide coronavirus vaccination drive on Saturday morning. He reminded the citizens that that two doses of the vaccine are very important in the fight against coronavirus.

India earlier granted emergency use authorisation for two ingenious coronavirus vaccine — Covishield by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech. Reassuring people that emergency use authorisation was given to the two ‘made in India’ vaccines only after scientists were convinced of their safety and effectiveness, Modi said “the vaccines will ensure a decisive victory for the country over the coronavirus pandemic.”“Dawaai bhi, kadaai bhi,” Modi said, asking people to guard against complacency and follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.

During his briefing to media, Union health minister said, “There’s a small section that is spreading rumours about vaccines, their utility, their safety, to mislead the people in society. But such a large number of people received vaccines today with great joy & enthusiasm, eminent doctors received the vaccine.”

“A debate has started that why are Health Ministers or people’s representatives not taking vaccine. I was asked that why am I not taking vaccine? I told them that I’ll wait for my turn, which will come when people above 50 yrs of age will be administered vaccine,” he further added.

“If people’s representatives would have taken the vaccine first, then people would have said that these leaders have protected themselves first of all. So, we should not get worried about such discussions.”

Over 1.6 lakh people receive COVID-19 jab on the first day of India’s vaccine drive. Over 3,300 session were held across the country.

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