Thiruvananthapuram: The COVID-19 vaccine drive in Kerala began on Saturday with 8,062 health workers getting inoculated. Health workers were vaccinated at various centres in the state as part of a nationwide exercise that began on Saturday. No side effect has been reported.
The vaccination was carried out at 133 designated centres, with prominent doctors among the first batch of frontline workers to get the shots, health minister K K Shailaja said.
She said Palakkad district has the most number of healthcare workers to receive the vaccine--857.
"No one has reported any side effects due to the vaccine. The health department was ready with Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) kit at all centres along with ambulance service. The state is also ready for the second phase of vaccination," Shailaja said in a release.
The minister warned that strong action would be taken against those who spread fake news about the vaccine.
"The government is using its entire machinery to fight the pandemic. The reports that more vaccines will reach the state gives us hope that more lives can be saved," she said.
Director of Health Service R L Saritha and Director of Medical Education, Dr A Ramla Beevi were given the vaccine shots in Thiruvananthapuram.
Most of the District Medical Officers were among those who received the vaccine on the first day.
"It's a proud moment here in Kannur that the director of Malabar Cancer Centre, Dr Satheeshan Balasubramanyam became the first person in the district to receive the vaccine," Shailaja said.
She told reporters in Kannur that a committee headed by the Chief Secretary was overseeing the drive.
According to the health department, a total of 100 people will be vaccinated at each centre in a day, aggregating to 13,300 healthcare workers on Saturday.
"In the initial phase, the vaccination will be given to the healthcare workers, and in the next phase, it will be made available to the police, central armed forces, municipality employees, other frontline workers and volunteers, the Minister said.
Asked about availability of the vaccines for the public, Shailaja said after the second phase, those above the age of 50 and others affected with various diseases will be given priority.
The minister asked the people to remain cautious even after getting vaccinated.
"The pandemic is not going to end after this vaccine. We still need to make sure that we follow the health protocol, including the use of masks, hand wash and social distancing. The immunity will be developed slowly," she said.
The first consignment of 4,33,500 doses of Covishield vaccine was received in the state from the Pune-based Serum Institute of India earlier this week.
Out of this, 1,100 doses was sent to Mahe, an enclave of Puducherry lying between Kozhikode and Kannur districts.
As many as 3,68,866 people have registered for the vaccine drive.