Chandigarh, Punjab joined the rest of the country in the historic roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday with five healthcare workers getting the jab in the presence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who virtually launched the process to inoculate 1.74 lakh people in the state in the first phase.
Sandeep Singh, Charan Kamal and Dimple Dhaliwal Srivastva, all doctors, computer operator Asha Yadav and Class IV employee Surjit Singh were administered the first dose of Covishield vaccine in the presence of the Chief Minister at the Civil Hospital in Mohali near here.
Amarinder Singh also gifted saplings to these five healthcare workers posted at the Civil Hospital as a token of appreciation.
Interacting with the media, the Chief Minister said that it was his desire to get vaccinated first, but in accordance with the directives of the government of India, only healthcare workers would be covered in the first phase.
“I would definitely get myself vaccinated in the next phase,” said Amarinder Singh.
The Chief Minister said the vaccine would be administered to the healthcare workers first, followed by the army and police personnel, in line with the guidelines of the government of India.
He said he had written to the Prime Minister for permission for free distribution of vaccine among the people belonging to the lower income groups.
In response to a query on vaccine safety, the Chief Minister said the vaccines would not have been approved unless the scientists were sure of their safety.
He said that around the world, vaccines have been taken by many eminent personalities, including Queen Elizabeth of the UK who is 93-year-old, and her husband who is 99, without showing any side-effects.
Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said that all arrangements have been put in place for a smooth vaccination drive, including online portal for registration, operationalisation of 366 sites for administering the dose etc.
For the initial stage, as many as 408 vaccination teams have been constituted, while 59 teams are working to inoculate the healthcare workers, he added.
Sidhu also said that 729 cold chain points have been established in the state for adequate storage of vials at the desired temperature.