The much-awaited Covid-19 vaccination drive was today kick-started in the two Telugu-speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh after it was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national capital on a grand scale, in a virtual ceremony.
While in Telangana, the first dose was administered to 42-year-old S Kistamma, a sanitation worker at the Gandhi Hospital in Secunderabad, another sanitation worker Pushpa Kumari, a cleaner at the Medical Health Department, became the first person in Andhra Pradesh to receive the vaccine.
The decision to administer the vaccine to the frontline workers of the country first was taken after PM Modi issued a call to the various state governments to do so, pointing out that the workers' contribution to fighting the spread of the pandemic over the last few months had been immense.
In Telangana, Health Minister Etala Rajender, Union Minister G Kishan Reddy and Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar participated in the launch of the inoculation drive at the Gandhi Hospital.
Speaking on the occasion, Rajender said, "Today, our government launched the immunisation drive across 140 vaccination centres in the state. Every day, the vaccine will be administered to 30 frontline warriors who have done an incredible job in fighting the coronavirus pandemic so far. As many as 3.64 lakh Covi-shield and 20,000 Covaxin shots have been made available in the state of Telangana for the same."
"Responding to the PM's appeal, I did not take the first vaccine. It was instead administered to a sanitation worker," he added.
(Rajender had earlier promised the people of the state that he would receive the first shot of the vaccine
, in a bid to allay their fears regarding its efficacy and possible side effects.)
The minister then reiterated his assurance to the people that there was no need to have any apprehensions regarding the vaccine as it was "completely safe".
He also said that the state government was following the guidelines issued by the Centre and the ICMR for the implementation of the immunisation program, to ensure its success.
Kishan Reddy also expressed happiness at the launch of the vaccination program and lauded Bharat Biotech for doing "a commendable job" at rolling out a safe and usable vaccine.
"The first phase of the program will cover the frontline health staff and the sanitation workers. The vaccine will then be administered to those above 50 years of age and those with chronic ailments," he said.
Meanwhile, in Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy kicked off the immunisation program at Vijayawada's Government General Hospital along with Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Health Alla Nani.
At the launch, the Chief Minister inspected the preparations that had been made for the program, and interacted with the beneficiaries.
Nagajyothi and three other health workers were also vaccinated in his presence.