NITI Aayog member Dr Vinod Paul said that there will be 5,000 vaccine points in the initial stages and that the number will be scaled up. He added that both the coronavirus vaccine candidates -- Covishield by Serum Institute and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech -- will be part of the initial drive and which will be used where will become clear soon.
"Both vaccines will be part of the rollout. Which one will be used where? This will also become clear soon," said Dr Paul. Speaking to India Today, Dr Paul said that it is an important day. He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his vision with the Chief Ministers. A priority group of 30 crore people, including 1 crore healthcare workers and 2 crore frontline workers will be vaccinated in the next few months.
He said that there are currently 5,000 vaccination points in the country. "The number will be doubled up in a matter of weeks. Allow us to develop the system in an effective way and then scale it up dramatically," said the NITI Aayog member.
Speaking about the cost of the vaccine, Dr Paul said that the cost for 1 crore healthcare workers and 2 crore other frontline workers will be borne by the government. "Beyond this, the government will make a decision. We don't have to presume one way or the other. We will ramp up supplies in a matter of weeks. There will be a much larger vaccination drive. But we must make an assured beginning. You have to begin with a certain, finite programme," he said.
Dr Paul added that the vaccine is not compulsory but healthcare workers have been advised to take the shot. "They have been exposed to Covid-19 infection cases and their families are worried. The overarching sentiment in the medical community is to take the vaccine. The Indian Medical Association today called upon its members to take either of the two vaccines," he said.
The nationwide vaccination drive will begin from January 16 after the festivals of Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal and Magh Bihu. The announcement was made by the Union Health Ministry after a high-level meeting with PM Modi on Saturday. "On 16th January, India takes a landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19. Starting that day, India's nation-wide vaccination drive begins. Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis," said PM Modi.