India begins second phase to vaccinate 270 million people

by | Feb 26, 2021 | International

NEW DELHI — Phase two of the COVID-19 vaccination drive starts on March 1 in India with priority being given to citizens above the age of 60 and citizens above the age of 45 with co-morbidities.

Government officials stated people aged 45 and older with diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases will be given a priority over citizens.

Being the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, around 270 million Indians are expected to be vaccinated in the second phase, with frontline workers and senior citizens being given priority.

“Given the sudden increase in cases in some states of the country, I think the second phase of the drive needs to start as soon as possible and covering a large portion of the population,” said Dr. Sharat Latta, the head of the Ear, Nose and Throat department at Jaypee Hospital in Noida, near New Delhi.

The vaccination drive in this country of about 1.38 billion people will take place in 10,000 government hospitals where the vaccine will be administered for free. The vaccine will also be administered in 20,000 private hospitals where the people will be charged.

The Health Ministry has not yet decided what the charge of the vaccine at private hospitals will be, but they are in talks with manufacturers and hospitals and expect to give an update in the coming week.

“I think it’s fair that the government is giving everyone an option but they also have to make sure that the private hospitals are not charging a lot,” said Anita Thakur, a senior citizen.

The vaccination drive has received a mixed response, some feeling that it is necessary to get vaccinated while some not comfortable being vaccinated at all.

Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan holds a dose of Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine called COVAXIN, during a vaccination campaign at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi on Jan. 16.

Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan holds a dose of Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine called COVAXIN, during a vaccination campaign at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi on Jan. 16. Photo credit: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

“I just want to make sure that the vaccine is safe and will not have any long-term effects on senior citizens,” said Vinesh Kumar, also a senior citizen.

The private sector will have a major role in the second phase of the distribution of the vaccine. The first phase which began on Jan.16, where 30 million frontline workers were administered with the vaccine, was not successful.

Only 10 million frontline workers were vaccinated and out of these, only 140,000 were administered with the second dose of the vaccine.

“With shots being administered in the private hospitals too, it will help give citizens an option and help roll out the second phase of vaccination drive at a faster rate than the first phase,” Latta said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with other politicians, will also be vaccinated as part of the second phase of the vaccination drive.