Vaccination Drive: Is COVID vaccine mandatory and all your FAQs about COVID vaccine answered

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India on Saturday will begin the vaccination drive, to be launched virtually by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to first inoculate millions of healthcare and frontline workers. The government has said more than 3,000 sites have been set up across; all states and Union Territories (UTs) for vaccination drive. Around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated on Saturday; at each of the session sites, the Union ministry of health and family welfare has said.    

The vaccination drive has been planned in a phased manner, identifying priority groups. Healthcare workers, both in government and private sectors including Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase, the health ministry said in a statement. It will be held daily from 9 am to 5 pm, except on the days earmarked for routine immunisation programmes.

Earlier in the day, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed preparations for the launch of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive as he visited the dedicated COVID control room set up at the Nirman Bhawan premises of the health ministry. He termed the drive as the “largest” and urged people to trust the indigenously manufactured vaccine, saying the government has given emergency use approval after proper scientific scrutiny.

FAQs on the corona virus vaccination drive:

What vaccines will be used?

Currently, the drugs regulator body of India has approved two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin. Pune-based Serum Institute of India has developed the Covishield vaccine. While the Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad’s Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Medical Council of research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology.

Is it free?

Yes. Earlier this month, Union health minister Vardhan stated that the COVID-19 vaccine will be provided free of cost across the country.

What is the eligibility?

For now, only people aged 18 or above will be vaccinated.

When do you get the second shot?

Both vaccines are a two-design regimen. The second shot will be administered 28 days after the first one.

Is it mandatory?

It will be a voluntary exercise. People will need to register themselves at the government portal only then will be administered with the vaccine.

Who will be vaccinated first?

As per the government figures, as many as 30 million people; will be vaccinated in the first phase of the drive. This will only include people working in the healthcare; and frontline workers who are at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic.

When will it be available to the general public?

The general public will get the vaccine once healthcare; and frontline workers, people above 50 years, and those below 50 years with comorbidities are covered which would take a few months.

Can pregnant women or lactating mothers get vaccinated?

The government has advised that pregnant women; or who are not sure of their pregnancy and lactating mothers shouldn’t receive the vaccine. Pregnant and lactating women have not been part of any COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial so far.

What is Co-WIN?

Co-WIN is an online digital platform developed by the Union health ministry, which will be used by the government to facilitate real-time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature, and individualised tracking of beneficiaries. Co-WIN will assist programme managers across all levels while conducting vaccination sessions, the PMO said.

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