Prime Minister Narendra Modi early on Monday took the first shot of Covaxin, the Indian-researched and produced anti-COVID-19 vaccine (produced by Bharat Biotech) at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.

Tweeting a picture of himself getting a shot, Mr. Modi said: “Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS. Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19. I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine. Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!”

It was learnt that the nurse who administered the vaccine jab to Mr. Modi was Sister P. Niveda of Puducherry, assisted by Rosamma Anil, a nurse from Kerala. Ms. Niveda said the Prime Minister was in good spirits and even jokingly asked if a syringe used by veterinarians was required to administer the vaccination “since politicians are supposed to have very thick skins.” He later complimented the nurses for the ease with which the jab was administered.

In an interesting coincidence, Kerala and Puducherry are both going to polls in April. Mr. Modi wore an Assamese gamcha, another State going to polls. Sources said no special route was laid out for the Prime Minister and the lack of traffic early morning was used to make the visit painless for Delhi commuters.

At a meeting of Chief Ministers on vaccine disbursal, Mr. Modi had said that political leaders and legislators should allow health and frontline workers to get the jab first as they needed protection. He had said that most political leaders would get their turn when senior citizens above 50 would be allowed to get the jab. Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar also got the first dose of the vaccine on Monday.

On March 1, the Centre allowed both government and private hospitals to administer the vaccine to those above 45 years with declared co-morbidities. India has given emergency use approval to Astra Zeneca-developed and India-produced Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.

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