New Delhi, March 1: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS here and appealed to all those who are eligible to get inoculated.
Setting the pace for the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, the prime minister reached the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here early this morning and was administered Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN by nurse P Niveda, who hails from Puducherry. Another nurse Rosamma Anil from Kerala also assisted in the process.
“Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS. Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19,” Modi tweeted after taking the vaccine shot.
“I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!” he said.
India expanded its COVID-19 vaccine coverage on Monday by including everyone over 60 and those aged between 45-59 who have co-morbidities in the net. In the first phase of the vaccination drive, healthcare personnel and frontline workers were inoculated.
The prime minister also posted a picture of himself taking the first dose of the vaccine in which he is seen sporting an Assamese ‘gamocha’ and getting inoculated with a smile on his face.
Nurses Niveda and Rosmma Anil can be seen in the picture posted by Modi.
Niveda later told reporters that the prime minister, after being administered the vaccine shot, remarked “Laga bhi diya, pata bhi nahin chala (Already done? I didn’t even feel it).”
The prime minister went to AIIMS without any route restrictions and chose early morning hours to ensure there was no inconvenience to people, the sources said.
Prime Minister Modi also used humour to put at ease the medical staff during the inoculation and asked the nurses administering the COVID-19 vaccine whether they were planning to use some special thick needle as politicians are known to be “very thick-skinned”, drawing laughter from them.
“When Prime Minister Modi arrived early in the morning, it was natural that the medical staff at AIIMS was perhaps a bit overawed by the situation,” a source said.
Realising this, the prime minister instantly struck a conversation with them, asking their names and about their native places, they said.
Then to lighten up the atmosphere, he asked the nurses whether they would use a needle meant for veterinary purposes. The nurses said no but did not fully understand the question.
Politicians are known to be “very thick-skinned”, PM Modi quipped and asked if they were planning to use some special thick needle for him, according to the sources.
On hearing this, the nurses not only laughed but were also put at ease, the sources said.
AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria said Prime Minister Modi’s move to take the COVID-19 vaccine on the very first day of India opening up the inoculation drive for senior citizens and those aged 45 and above with comorbidities should eliminate any hesitancy from the minds of people about the vaccine.
In one of the pictures, Niveda is seen injecting the vaccine, while the other nurse is seen helping in the process. In another, they are seen standing next to the prime minister posing for the photograph.
Niveda said she has been working with the AIIMS here for three years and is currently posted at the vaccine centre.
“We found out PM sir is coming for vaccination this morning. When I came here only then I got to know that sir is coming. It was really nice to meet sir,” she said.
He has been administered the first dose of Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN and now his second dose will be administered after 28 days, the nurse said.
“He talked with us, asked us from where we belong,” she said.
Rosamma Anil said it was very nice to meet the prime minister and added that he was “very comfortable”.
“Today is the happiest day of my life because our Prime Minister Modi ji came to our AIIMS hospital to get a vaccine. He greeted us with folded hands, saying ‘vanakkam’,” she said.
“He (Modi) was under observation for 30 minutes after taking the COVAXIN injection. Sir had no complications. He was very happy,” Rosamma Anil said.
“Before leaving the hospital after half an hour, sir came to us again with folded hands, saying thank you and vanakkam,” she said.
The government had announced on Wednesday that everyone above 60 years of age and those over 45 years with comorbidities will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine from March 1 for free at government facilities and for a charge at many private hospitals.
Citizens will be able to register and book an appointment for vaccination, anytime and anywhere, using the Co-WIN 2.0 portal or through other IT applications such as Aarogya Setu.
Several other prominent leaders including Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Home Minister Amit Shah, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and NCP chief Sharad Pawar received the first dose of COVID vaccine on Monday. (PTI)