The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Sunday approved Oxford Covid-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan recently announced that vaccination in its first phase for priority group beneficiaries in all states will be free.
"I appeal to the people not to be misguided by rumours regarding the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine. We will not compromise on any protocol before approving a vaccine," Vardhan said underlining that vaccine hesitancy was an issue even when the country started polio immunisation drive, but "we must remember its success."
Key things you should know about India's biggest vaccination drive and how to register yourself as a beneficiary:
Who gets the vaccine first?
According to the recommendations of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), one crore healthcare workers working with both government and private hospitals will be first in the line to be inoculated.
The priority group has been further divided into sub-categories as frontline workers, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers, nurses and supervisors, paramedical staff, medical officers, support staff and medical students.
All the data has been collected from the health care facilities and is being uploaded into the Co-WIN app.
Two crore frontline workers employed with central and state Police services, armed forces, civil defence organisation, disaster management, home guard, prison staff, municipal workers, revenue officials working with Covid-19 surveillance and other associated activities.
Workers associated with state government and ministries of defence, urban affairs, housing will also receive the vaccination in the first phase
People aged above 50 years
This group will be further divided in people above the age group of 60 years and people above the age of 50 years with co-morbidities.
Age will be calculated based on the cut-off date of January 1, 2021, and anyone born on or before January 1, 1971, will fall under this category.
What about others?
The rest of the population will have to wait until the first phase of vaccination is complete, however, a timeline for the rest of the population is not known as yet.
How can I get Covid-19 vaccine?
The vaccination centres will administer the Covid-19 vaccine only to those who have pre-registered on the Co-WIN website or app. The prioritisation for the people, who are not healthcare workers, will be based on their age and comorbidities.
Self-registration can be done on the Co-WIN app or website.
Can it be done on spot?
No, only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated per the prioritization - there will be no provision for on-the-spot registrations.
The registered mobile number will be used to inform the eligible beneficiaries.
What are the required documents for registration?
One of the following documents will be required for registration - Driving licence, PAN card, bank passbook, passport, pension document, MGNERGA job card, voter ID, official IDs of MPs/ MLAs/ MLCs, government-issued service ID card and health insurance smartcard issued by Ministry of Labour.
The guidelines state that photo ID is a must for both registration and verification of beneficiary at the session site to ensure that the intended person is vaccinated.
If you have been tested positive once, will you be vaccinated?
Yes, it is advisable to receive a complete schedule of Covid-19 vaccine irrespective of the past history of infection with coronavirus. "This will help in developing a strong immune response against the disease," the centre had said.
How many doses will be administered?
According to the Health Ministry, two doses of vaccine, 28 days apart, need to be taken by an individual to complete the vaccination schedule.