India achieved a major milestone in its vaccination programme against COVID-19 as the cumulative doses administered surpassed the 200-crore mark on Sunday, 18 months after it began the drive to combat the deadly epidemic that has claimed over 5.25 lakh lives in the country so far. In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the people of the country on bringing about this significant feat. He called India’s vaccination drive “unparalleled in scale and speed”. The UNICEF termed it a phenomenal accomplishment and a testament to the grit and dedication of India’s health workers, while the WHO too praised the effort.
“India has set a new record by completing the target of 200 crore vaccinations in just 18 months. Hearty congratulations to all countrymen on this achievement,” Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in a tweet. “Powered by the spirit of Jan-Bhagidari, India’s vaccination journey under PM @NarendraModi Ji’s inspiring leadership has emerged as a mighty epitome of Sabka Prayas,” he said, adding that “this extraordinary achievement will be etched in history”. According to provisional reports, a total of 2,00,00,15,631 doses had been administered across the country. The top five states where highest number of doses have been administered are Uttar Pradesh (34,42,69,865), Maharashtra (17,05,70,069), West Bengal (14,40,95,285), Bihar (13,98,78,169) and Madhya Pradesh (12,13,21,534).
The health ministry said 98 per cent of India’s adult population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while 90 per cent have been fully vaccinated. “India creates history again! Congrats to all Indians on crossing the special figure of 200 crore vaccine doses. Proud of those who contributed to making India’s vaccination drive unparalleled in scale and speed. This has strengthened the global fight against COVID-19,” Prime Minister Modi said. According to government data, 82 per cent of adolescents aged 15 to 18 years have also been vaccinated with the first dose since the vaccination for this age group began on January 3 while 68 pc have got both the first and second dose. Eighty one per cent of those aged 12-14 years have taken the first dose while 56 pc are fully vaccinated.
According to the health ministry, 71 per cent of the vaccination has taken place in COVID vaccination centres located in rural areas and 29 per cent in urban areas. Also, 48.9 per cent of the total doses were administered to men while 51.1 per cent to women. Also, 0.02 per cent of total vaccine doses administered were given to ‘Others’. In eight states, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Chandigarh, Telangana and Goa, 100 per cent of the 12 years plus eligible population are fully vaccinated. Over 5.64 precaution doses have been administered to all eligible populations. The cumulative vaccine doses administered in the country crossed the 100-crore mark on October 21 last year and 150 crore on January 7 this year.
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia congratulated India for administering over 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses. “This is yet another evidence of the country’s commitment and efforts to minimise the impact of the ongoing pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against severe disease and death for all variants.”We must continue our efforts to ensure everyone everywhere benefits from these life-saving vaccines. Let us not forget that the pandemic is still around even after taking the vaccine we must remember to take all precautionary measures to curtail the virus spread,” she said in a statement. Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar also thanked the healthcare workers for their hard work, vision and innovation in setting a new record in the service of humanity.The UNICEF said India’s health workers have worked tirelessly to boost vaccination coverage in all parts of the country, despite the challenges of repeated pandemic waves, inclement weather, difficult terrain and hard-to-reach areas.
“This is a moment to also honour the hard work of scientists, health practitioners, vaccine manufacturers, and policy makers who ensured timely availability and equity in vaccines reaching all. “Since the beginning of the pandemic response, UNICEF is pleased to have extended support to the Government of India by procuring and supplying over 4,195 pieces of electrical cold chain equipment, including walk-in coolers, freezers, ice lined refrigerators, and deep freezers. We also supplied more than 600,000 pieces of cold boxes and vaccine carriers,” it said in a statement. With 20,528 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India’s tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 4,37,50,599, while the active cases increased to 1,43,449, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.
The death toll climbed to 5,25,709. The active cases comprise 0.33 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.47 per cent, the ministry said. The Union Health Ministry in a statement said several systematic interventions were carried out in ensuring capacity building for carrying out this nationwide exercise. The existing supply chain for storage and transport of COVID19 vaccines was leveraged and strengthened and effective monitoring of vaccine distribution and assured availability and efficient utilisation of vaccines and syringes was ensured at all times the statement said. India’s free and voluntary nationwide COVID-19 vaccination exercise is also being carried out in a citizen-friendly approach through initiatives like Har Ghar Dastak, workplace CVC, school-based vaccination, vaccination of persons with no identity documents, Near-to-Home CVC and mobile vaccination teams.
“With 71 per cent of CVCs located in rural areas and over 51 per cent of vaccine doses administered to women, India’s National COVID19 Vaccination Programme also ensured geographical and gender equity,” the ministry said. Despite the decline in COVID cases across the country, consistent efforts were ongoing to vaccinate all eligible citizens. “This is exemplified by the fact that it took almost nine months to reach the 100 crore mark and another nine months to reach the 200-crore mark since the start of the vaccination drive on January 16, 2021 with the highest single-day vaccination record of 2.5 crore doses achieved on 17 Sept 2021,” the ministry said.
On July 15, the Union Government launched a 75-day long ‘COVID Vaccination Amrit Mahotsav’ to provide free precaution doses to all eligible adult population at Government COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs).This special drive, part of the celebration for Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, is being implemented in a ‘mission mode’ to increase uptake of precaution dose. The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 last year with healthcare workers getting inoculated in the first phase. Vaccination of frontline workers started on February 2 last year. The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on March 1 last year for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified comorbid conditions.
Vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years began on April 1 last year. The government then decided to expand the ambit of the vaccination drive by allowing everyone above 18 years to be inoculated against Covid from May 1 last year. Inoculation of adolescents in the age group of 15-18 years commenced on January 3. India began administering precaution doses of vaccines to healthcare and frontline workers and those aged 60 and above with comorbidities from January 10.The country began inoculating children aged 12-14 on March 16 and also removed the comorbidity clause making all people aged above 60 eligible for the precaution dose of the Covid vaccine. India on April 10 began administering precaution doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all aged above 18 years.