Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Saturday urged people “not to pay heed to rumours” as the dry run for Covid-19 vaccination got underway across the country. “I appeal to people not to pay heed to rumours. Ensuring the safety and efficacy of the vaccine is our priority. Different kinds of rumours were spread during polio immunisation but people took the vaccine and India is now polio-free,” Harsh Vardhan was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. The health minister was speaking to reporters after visiting the government-run Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, one of the three sites selected in Delhi for the vaccination dry run.
“Feedback received after the dry run in four states were included in guidelines for vaccination and today’s dry run in all states and Union territories is being conducted as per new guidelines. Except for giving the actual vaccine, every procedure is being followed during the drill,” he added.
Saturday’s pan-India dry run is being conducted after the exercise was carried out on December 28 and 29 across four states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Punjab. The day-long activity will cover the capitals of all states and Union territories as the country gears up for the launch of what will be the world’s largest immunisation drive. In Delhi, besides the GTB Hospital, the other two sites selected are the Daryaganj primary health centre and the private Venkateshwara Hospital.
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On Friday, the first day of the New Year, the country went one step closer to getting a Covid-19 vaccine as the independent subject experts committee (SEC) gave its approval for the use in emergency cases to Oxford University-AstraZeneca’s Covishield. The vaccine, which will be manufactured in India by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), needs final approval, from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), where it will be reviewed next.