COVID-19 Vaccine launch in India

India is well prepared for the largest vaccine drive to combat COVID-19

Brian Alfred Boye
CovidVaccination
UNICEF India
15 February 2021

Manish Kumar, a 34-year-old sanitation worker at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), became the first person in India to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Almost a year after India reported its first case, on 16 January, India launched the largest vaccine drive, starting its journey on the road to recovery from a pandemic that has unconditionally disrupted and taken lives.

Our lives have changed over the course of the pandemic. Terms like lockdown, quarantine, social and physical distancing are now part of our everyday conversations. There’s anxiety when we touch any surface or object. The range of emotions we feel when we see someone without a mask on or someone wearing it incorrectly – these changes have been overwhelming. Now with the launch of the vaccine, these emotions are being overcome with a sense of hope.

India’s plan is ambitious. But in a country of 1.3 billion people, it needs to be. And it has a lot going in its favour to succeed. India is the largest producer of vaccines in the world. It has significant experience eradicating polio and has worked extensively on measles-rubella and routine immunization campaigns. India has the experience, ability and credentials to meet its high goals. UNICEF has been a proud partner supporting India's immunization programmes and health care for more than 70 years.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have a three phased approach for the vaccine roll-out that will see health workers vaccinated first, followed by frontline and essential workers and then people over 50 years and those with comorbidities. After months of planning, including numerous dry runs to iron out any concerns, there was renewed optimism and energy when the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered.

On the first day, almost 200,000 health workers stepped forward to be vaccinated. 

"I feel proud that I am getting the vaccine. We should all take the vaccine and help remove this disease from it's roots"

Ram Babu, housekeeping staff, Bihar.
COVIDvaccination2
UNICEF India

Many prominent healthcare personalities like Dr. Ilias Ali (Left), a Padma Shri Awardee led the way in some states, reassuring people that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect oneself against the virus. Jiran Kaldulna (Right), Head Manager of Sadar Hospital in Ranchi, Jharkhand took the vaccine and led by example after Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially launched the vaccination campaign.

Dr. Ilias Ali
UNICEF India
Dr. Ilias Ali
Jiran Kaldulna
UNICEF India
Jiran Kaldulna

There is a long way to go for us to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. With the launch of the vaccine, and with India’s determination, the days when our smiles aren’t hidden behind mask will hopefully be upon us again. Until then, you need to continue to wear your mask, wash your hands, and maintain physical distance.