New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The central government on Saturday informed that the first phase of vaccination against the novel coronavirus will begin from January 16. It further said that around 30 crore people will be vaccinated in the first phase, noting that priority will be given to the healthcare staff and frontline workers.

Following the vaccination of healthcare staff and frontline workers, people above the age of 50 and then those under 50 with co-morbidities will get vaccine shots, the government said. According to the Union Health Ministry, there are three crore healthcare staff and frontline workers in India.

"PM Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the status of COVID-19 in the country along with preparedness of the state and union territories (UTs) for COVID-19 vaccination on Saturday. The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to PM, Health Secretary and other senior officials," the Centre said, as reported by news agency ANI.

Following government's announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India will take a "landmark step" in its fight against COVID-19 on January 16 with the beginning of vaccination drive across the country. "Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis," he tweeted.

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So far, the central government has approved two coronavirus vaccines -- Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin' and Oxford-AstraZeneca's 'Covishield' -- for emergency use authorisation in India. It has also conducted two nationwide vaccine dry runs to assess the readiness to start the vaccination drive in India, which has been dubbed as the world's largest inoculation against the novel pathogen.

Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that India is working towards making "low-cost, safe and effective" vaccines available to the entire world. He further said that emergency approval to Covaxin and Covishield was given only after checking their effectiveness and safety.

"India has finally built a state-of-the-art digital platform for COVID-19 vaccine delivery called CoWin. A critical part of our strategy involves maintaining confidence in the safety of vaccines in the possibility of adverse events following immunisation," he said.

Also Read -- Coronavirus Vaccination: India officially gets its first COVID-19 vaccines | Who will be inoculated first and how

PM Modi to interact with CMs on Monday over COVID situation, vaccine roll-out

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, will interact with the chief ministers of all states and representatives of union territories (UTs) on Monday where he will discuss the COVID-19 situation in the country and discuss Health Ministry's plan for vaccination drive in India.

This will be PM Modi's first interaction with chief ministers following the recent approval of two coronavirus vaccines for restricted emergency use by India's drug regulator. The prime minister has often spoken with states and UTs following the beginning of coronavirus pandemic.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma