Hardeep Singh, a 37-year old sanitation worker who joined duty at Shimla’s Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital in March last year just when the Covid-19 pandemic was declared, became the first person in Himachal Pradesh’s capital to be administered the first dose of vaccine during the launch of the inoculation drive in the presence of Chief Minister Jai Ram Rthakur Saturday.
As per a government statement, around 2,500 people received the first shot of the vaccine at 27 centres. About 74,500 health workers are expected to be vaccinated in the first phase of vaccination in the state.
The first three beneficiaries were inoculated in the presence of CM Thakur at a newly-built makeshift facility at the IGMCH.
Among them was safai karamchari Hardeep, who said that his responsibility includes disinfecting the college premises. During this past year, he saw numerous Covid-related deaths at the hospital but managed to escape the infection. “Health authorities called me up on Friday, asking me to be the first beneficiary of the vaccine, and I obliged,” he said.
Dr Janak Raj, the senior medical superintendent of the hospital, who suffered and recovered from Covid in November, was the first beneficiary to get the vaccine shot at the centre.
In Chamba, medical student Ayna Thakur, was the first to get the vaccine shot at her centre. “I was nervous and not ready for the vaccination initially. But I am totally fine now. We are going to be doctors in future, and we’re getting vaccinated first. So we can now influence and inspire others to do the same, telling them that it’s better to get vaccinated than infected,” said Ayna.
In Kullu, the drive was launched at the regional hospital at the district headquarters. Vikram Thakur, a radiographer in the hospital, was the first to receive the shot. “I am confident about the
efficacy of this vaccine. People were apprehensive about bruise marks and other complications, but I felt no pain during the injection, not even the sensation which is caused by the prick of a thorn. And I have felt no side effects so far either,” he said after the completion of his monitoring period.
In Solan, a health worker scheduled to receive the vaccination on Saturday reportedly refused to turn up at the centre.
The state received 93,000 doses of the vaccine Covishield from the Pune-based Serum Institute of India
on Thursday. A state-level vaccination store has been set up in Shimla, two regional stores in Mandi and Dharamshala and 12 district-level stores in each of the districts. Besides, 386 cold chain points have been set up in the state, according to health officials.
CM Thakur said that there is an already an adequate stock of auto-disable syringes at the vaccine centres. “Vaccinators have been trained in Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) management. The AEFI committees formed at the state and district levels have been provided with additional pulmonologists and medicine specialists for casualty assessment of AEFI cases,” he said.
Thakur said that the second dose of the vaccine is to be administered after a gap of 28 days, and urged the beneficiaries and other residents of the state to follow all Covid-related precautions despite the vaccination drive.
Governor Bandaru Dattatraya termed the countrywide vaccination drive a historic moment and appealed to the people of the state to participate in the vaccination process.