PM Modi leads the way as India rolls out vaccinations for the masses 

The world’s second most populous country has a massive task on its hands with its Covid vaccination programme – and now it has new infections spikes in eight states too 

by Sean OMeara
PM Modi leads the way as India rolls out vaccinations for the masses 
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been given a home-grown Covid vaccine as India widens its immunisation drive.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged his fellow Indians to be vaccinated against Covid-19 when their turn comes as he received his jab on Monday.

With eight states now showing a spike in fresh infections, the country has opened up its vaccination programme for the wider population after prioritising healthcare workers and frontline staff.

Now, people over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions aged between 45 and 59 can get vaccinated too. State-run hospitals will offer free jabs but people can also pay at private facilities to get vaccinated.

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After receiving the jab, the Prime Minister said: "I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India Covid-19 free.”

His appeal follows a lukewarm response to the first phase, which aimed to vaccinate 30 million health and other frontline workers but achieved less than half the number. The second phase target is 27 million.

The government aims to cover 300 million "priority people" by the end of July.

SLOW PACE

But the pace of vaccination has been slow – so far only 14 million doses have been given and experts say unless the drive is scaled up, the target could be missed.

Since the pandemic began, India has confirmed more than 11 million cases and over 157,000 deaths. 

Much of India has reported a sharp fall in cases recently, with daily infections for the county falling to less than 20,000 from a peak of over 90,000 in September. But a handful of states have recently reported a sharp uptick in the number of cases.

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