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INDIA COVID-19: Over 5 million sign up on Day 1 as vaccine drive enters Phase 2


MARCH 2, 2021

Over 5 million people signed up and close to 150,000 people from the general public received coronavirus vaccines on Monday, the first day the drive was opened up beyond health care and frontline workers, leading to a rush of registrations and crowds of hopeful recipients at hospitals across the country.

The Union health ministry said nearly 3 million registrations were done on the Co-WIN portal, with each having the provision to sign up four people. “Even if we assume one mobile phone registered at least two beneficiaries, it is more than 5 million recipients registered in a single day that we are talking about,” said RS Sharma, the chairman of the empowered group on Covid vaccinations.

The drive kicked off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking his dose of the vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi early in the morning, following which a bevy of prominent people too took shots in an attempt to encourage others.

“I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine,” Modi said on Twitter, posting a picture of him getting the shot. “Together, let us make India Covid-19 free!”

People above 60, and those who are 45 or more and suffering from certain medical conditions, are now eligible for the vaccinations. But some inoculation centres reported issues with the Co-WIN portal used to coordinate the drive, and people elsewhere reported being confused into trying to book appointments on a synonymous app that is available on application stores.

Amid the teething troubles and the crowds seen at the hospitals, there were close to 430,000 doses administered on Monday – lower than the peak of roughly 800,000 seen late last month. But the numbers are set to pick up given the spate of registrations had proven the demand for the shots was high, officials said.

“I think people are quite willing to take the vaccine and there is a huge demand at this point of time…We have a total of 12,500 private hospitals that have come on board since today and 15,000 hospitals in the public sectors. So 27,000 institutions in all and even at a conservative estimate of each one vaccinating 100, we will have 2.7 millions in a day,” said Sharma.

India, which has reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases after the United States, has so far delivered 14 million doses, mostly to health and front-line workers since starting its immunization programme in mid-January. It wants to cover 300 million of its 1.3 billion people by August.

On average, India has been vaccinating about 500,000 beneficiaries daily across the country, a rate that experts say is inadequate at a time when cases have begun inching up across the country.

Over the past three days, the country recorded over 16,000 cases on an average, compared to close to 12,000 in the middle of last month. At least four states are showing signs of a resurgence, making officials fear a second wave may be building.

Among the prominent people who took a dose were Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Rajasthan governor Kalraj Mishra and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and his wife.

“I felt no discomfort after getting the shot. I would now drive back to my village. The only regret is that my wife didn’t come with me as we have only one helmet,” said Ramkishore Sahu, an 80-year-old retired school teacher, who rode his motorcycle for around 68 kilometres to reach Ranchi’s Sadar Hospital to get the first dose of the vaccine.

In Madhya Pradesh, 70-year-old Jagdish Pal was among the first to get vaccinated. “I reached the hospital at 8AM for vaccination but due to some technical error in the software. I had to wait for two hours. I am feeling good after vaccination,” said Pal, who recovered from Covid-19 three months ago.

In some places, people complained about lack of clarity. “No information was provided on the procedure at the walk-in center nearby home. I have been asked to come back in a few days,” said Mumbai resident Abdul Khadas.

In Chennai, Naidu and Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit took the first doses of the vaccine at the Government Omandurar Medical College Hospital. Dravidar Kazhagam president K Veeramani also took the shot at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital here, officials said.

Courtesy/Source: Hindustan Times