Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Monday said that for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccination, 23 lakh people have registered till 6 pm. During another interview he said that over 29 lakh people had registered - online or via the Aarogya Setu app by 8.30 pm on Monday, the first day of the public rollout of the coronavirus vaccines

However, he believes this number can be much more as each individual who registered for vaccination could add up to four others.

India began the second phase of the vaccination drive on March 1, by inoculating people above 60 years of age and those above 45 years with comorbidities at 10,000 government and over 20,000 private vaccination centres.

Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that no death has occurred due to COVID-19 vaccination in the country so far. Talking about the side effects of the vaccine, he said, "The side effects are minimal like swelling or fever. This sometimes happens during normal vaccination too. Hospitalisation due to vaccination is 0.0004 - it's negligible. No death has occurred due to vaccination."

More than one crore frontline workers have been vaccinated so far and more than 20 countries are using India made vaccines.

The vaccination drive started amid a spike in cases in a few states - mostly Maharashtra, where over 6,300 infections were reported in the past 24 hours and amid concerns over mutated strains.

Union Health Minister has also said that data at this stage indicated no link between new strains and the spike in COVID cases. He however, urged people to keep their guard up despite the rollout of the vaccines and follow COVID appropriate protocol at least for a few months more.

Registration for the shots can be done either via the CoWIN web portal or the Aarogya Setu app, with people given a choice of facility (government or private) from which to get the jab.

However, earlier on Monday many reported they were unable to book appointments. The platforms were accepting registrations but not allotting appointments at private facilities.

Putting an end to politics around Covaxin, Dr Harsh Vardhan tweeted, "Hon'ble PM Sh @narendramodi Ji getting inoculated with #Covaxin will hopefully put to rest any petty politics around its safety & immunogenicity, which was already established via science-backed research & data."

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