The first shots of Covid-19 vaccine were administered to 4,319 healthcare workers at 81 sites in Delhi as the country kicked off a mass immunisation programme.
During the inoculation drive, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited Delhi government’s Lok Nayak hospital — which has been the largest Covid facility and at the forefront of the pandemic fight. “Today marks the beginning of the mass vaccination drive for Covid-19 that has kicked off in the entire country. In Delhi, the vaccination drive has started in 81 sites and we will increase it to 1,000 in coming days. I have inspected and met healthcare workers who have been administered the vaccine and they are feeling fine. Don’t believe in any rumour — experts have suggested that the vaccine is completely safe.”
Atmaja Priyadarshini Nayak, nursing officer at the hospital, was administered the vaccine shot in the presence of the CM. Health Minister Satyendar Jain tweeted, “Our frontline workers received the first dose. I appreciate their endless efforts and dedication. Kudos to our scientists for their tireless work. Honour to have witnessed the historical vaccine rollout in capital.”
At 10.30 am, 48-year-old nurse Biji Tommy from Lok Nayak’s department of ENT entered the vaccination centre amid cheers and claps. Located on the first floor of the hospital, the centre was decorated with marigold garlands and balloons in a hall that has over the past year witnessed stories of emotional distress of Covid patients.
“Bohot acha lag raha hai laga kar (It feels good after getting vaccinated),” she said as she exited. Staff waiting outside handed a rose to her, a display of encouragement for taking the first step.
For almost five months, she had to spend time away from her husband and two sons. “I could not even celebrate Easter with them. In July, I missed my elder son’s birthday. Fear used to creep in every time I got myself tested for Covid-19. Those hours of wait felt like an era. I have broken down several times as I waited to see my family,” she said at the observation area of the hospital.
With some apprehensions regarding the vaccine among the general population and even healthcare workers, leaving for the hospital on Saturday morning was not easy, she said. “My family was tense. Though none of them were against me getting the shot, I could see nervousness on their faces. It was tough for me to step out of the house. My husband has been taking care of the family through the time I was away,” she said.
At the hospital, where 100 healthcare workers were expected to get vaccinated, a total of 32 turned up. Each time someone headed from the vaccination centre to the observation area, cheers and applause could be heard.
Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of the hospital, said: “We will get rid of Covid-19 after this vaccine drive. There is a festive mood across the country among all healthcare workers. We have treated around 11,000 Covid patients since the beginning, and while treating them, many of our staff members also got infected.”
According to data shared by the Delhi government, a total of 51 vaccinated persons developed minor complications such as headaches, irritation and giddiness. South and southeast districts registered 11 minor cases each.
A 22-year-old security guard developed an allergy after being administered Covaxin at AIIMS. He remains admitted but is stable, sources at the medical institute said. His case has been categorised as ‘severe’ in Delhi government’s records.