Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan chose to be with doctors, nurses and other healthcare and frontline workers at AIIMS, New Delhi on this momentous day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the COVID-19 vaccination drive at 10:30 AM via video conferencing.

He applauded their selfless devotion and commitment to the nation’s fight against COVID-19, as a sanitation worker Manish Kumar became the first recipient of the vaccination drive at AIIMS, New Delhi.

Describing the exercise as the start of the climax of the pandemic that started a year before, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been personally involved in the management of the pandemic since the start. Today marks the culmination of five months’ hard work on rolling out the COVID vaccines.”

The Minister marvelled at the span and scope of the world’s largest COVID19 vaccination drive. “3006 session sites across all States and UTs held the exercise simultaneously today with around 100 beneficiaries vaccinated at each of the sites. With a population of 138 crore and a history of Universal Immunization Program which involves targeted vaccination against twelve vaccine preventable diseases, India stands at the cusp of recording history and shows the way to peers across the globe. After Smallpox and Polio, it is the turn of COVID. All the remote, hard to reach areas, urban slums, tribal belts are all covered in today’s exercise.”

Dr Harsh Vardhan elaborated on the preparations that were taken up for this huge exercise. “More than a lakh vaccinators were trained; multiple mock exercises were conducted; a pan-India national exercise was also conducted to hammer out the slightest glitches. Technology was used to bolster performance as the eVIN platform was repurposed to CoWIN (Winning over COVID), SMS sent to all beneficiaries since the last two days (for today’s session) which would be repeated on schedule for their second dose and across all beneficiaries in all sessions.”

“The Prime Minister and all the Chief Ministers along with my fellow colleague Health Ministers have worked as a team and made history today,” he said.

Dr Randeep Guleria, Director AIIMS and Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog and Chair, National Expert Group of Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC) also received vaccination at AIIMS today.