In Focus

Colaba's INHS Ashvini kickstarts COVID vaccination drive

By Anushka Singh

On 16 January 2021, soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the world's largest vaccination drive against COVID-19 via video-conference that was telecast live across the nation, in Mumbai's Colaba, the immunisation drive began at the Western Naval Command at INHS Ashvini with the immunisation of Health Care Workers (HCWs).

LEADING: Commanding Officer Rear Admiral Sheila Mathai received the first dose of the vaccine on Day 1

Commanding Officer (CO), INHS Ashvini Rear Admiral Sheila Mathai received the first dose of the vaccine. The 100 Health Care Workers who received the vaccine on Day 1 included medical officers, nursing officers and paramedical staff. The next phase will target frontline workers and personnel deployed on operational platforms.

SHOULDERING RESPONSIBILITY: Vaccination Drive underway at INHS Ashvini in Colaba

The Prime Minister said that India's drive was based on humanitarian principles and stressed that "those who needed the vaccine the most will get the dose first." So, the ones at the highest risk, that include doctors, nurses, sanitation staff at hospitals, medical and para-medical staff would get the vaccine dose first.

KEEPING SAFE: A hundred Health Care Workers received the vaccine on Day 1 of the drive

"Today, scientists and those involved in vaccine research, deserve special praise. They have been involved in making the vaccine against Corona for the past several months. It usually takes years to make a vaccine. But in such a short time, not one, two Made in India vaccines are ready. Work is underway on some other vaccines as well," said Mr Modi.

In Mumbai, the vaccination campaign was launched by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray at the Centre in Bandra-Kurla complex. Scores of health workers were visible clapping and cheering the 'vaccine carrier' staff when the vaccine reached Cooper Hospital in Mumbai. The hospital staff waited outside the facility with arti thalis and sweets to welcome the first beneficiaries of the vaccination drive.

Cooper Hospital is one of the 285 centres in Maharashtra where the COVID-19 vaccinations are being provided in the first phase.

Maharashtra has received 9.63 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine and 20,000 doses of Covaxin vaccine, which have been distributed to all the districts. Vaccinations will be given daily from nine in the morning to five in the evening. Mumbai happens to have 40 - the highest number of vaccination centres in the state followed by Pune (31), Thane (23), Nashik (13), Nagpur and Ahmednagar (12 each), Kolhapur and Solapur (12 each) besides others.

In the first phase, government and private sector health care workers, including Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers will receive the vaccine. The drive will be held daily from 9 am to 5 pm, except on days earmarked for routine immunisation programmes.

In the next phases of the vaccination drive, people aged over 50, and those who are below 50 years but have serious health conditions or co-morbidities will be vaccinated, according to the health ministry. Dry-runs at vaccination centres across the country have been held with lakhs of healthcare staff across districts being trained.

The drugs regulatory body of India has currently approved two vaccines. Pune-based Serum Institute of India has developed the Covishield vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University while the Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad's Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Medical Council of research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology.