Over 17,000 people were vaccinated across six states on Day 2 of India’s coronavirus vaccination drive, the Health Ministry said Sunday evening, adding that the number of people who had received at least one shot was around 2.24 lakh. On Saturday (Day 1) around 1.9 lakh were vaccinated at some 3,000 sites, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the nationwide drive.
The Health Ministry said the drop in the number of states carrying out vaccinations today was part of a “usual strategy” to avoid clashes with immunisation schedules for other illnesses.
“The usual strategy is to avoid days on which there is a holiday or routine immunisation for other diseases. Most states are doing it over four days but smaller states like Goa are doing it over two because they have lesser numbers,” Manohar Agnani, Health Ministry Joint Secretary, said.
The Health Ministry said vaccinations were carried out at 553 sites on Sunday.
On Saturday 1.91 lakh people were administered vaccines at 3,006 sites across India. The target for the opening day was three lakh, and the significant difference in numbers was put down to vaccination being voluntary.
There have been concerns raised about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, with Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin flagged by some. The drug was cleared for emergency use despite Phase III trials still pending. The government said it was cleared on the basis of Phase I and II trial data.
Yesterday, as he launched the vaccination drive, Prime Minister Modi urged people against believing propaganda or rumours about the vaccines’ efficacy.
Today the ministry also stressed that protocols were in place to respond to AEFIs (adverse events following immunisation). The ministry added that the majority of such events were usually mild in nature – some swelling at the injection site, slight nausea or brief allergic reactions to the jab.
Only a few AEFIs required hospitalisation and these were listed as “serious”, the ministry explained.
At today’s briefing the ministry also said that only 447 AEFIs had been recorded over the two days of vaccination, of which only three patients had to be hospitalised. Two of these three have been discharged after treatment (from Delhi’s AIIMS and Railway Hospital), while the third was under observation at the AIIMS in Rishikesh.
The WHO defines AEFIs as any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunisation and does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine.
Earlier today Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain said 52 AEFIs had been recorded in the national capital after the vaccine roll-out. Only one of these was “a bit serious,” he said.
The patient has been admitted to AIIMS and is stable now, he added.
Delhi witnessed the first injection in India’s Covid vaccination drive – a sanitation worker was given a first dose of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin with Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan observing.
Two vaccines have been cleared for emergency use in India – Covishield (developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and manufactured by Pune’s Serum Institute) and the wholly-homegrown and manufactured Covaxin by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.
In the first phase of vaccination around one crore healthcare staff and two crore frontline workers, like police, community care workers and sanitation department employees, will receive the shots. They will be followed by around 27 crore people – consisting of those over the age of 50 and those below with serious illnesses and associated comorbidities.