New Delhi | Aalok Sensharma: India on Thursday achieved a major milestone in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and became only the second country after China to administer more than 100 crore anti-coronavirus vaccine doses. The country had launched the vaccination drive on January 16 following a nod to Serum Institute's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and it had administered 50 crore vaccine doses on August 6. However, it took only a little over two months for India to cross the 100-crore cumulative vaccination mark.

As India achieved the milestone of 100 crore vaccination coverage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was a historic day for the country adding that the nation now has strong armour of 100 crore COVID vaccine doses to combat the biggest pandemic in 100 years.

PM Modi said, "Today, this day of October 21, 2021, has been recorded in history. The nation now has strong armour of 100 crore Covid vaccine doses to combat this biggest pandemic in 100 years. India has crossed the 100 crore vaccine dose mark sometime back."

(pic credits: Twitter -- @mygovindia)

The Prime Minister further said that this achievement belongs to every citizen of India. "I express my gratitude to all the vaccine manufacturing companies of the country, workers engaged in vaccine transportation, health sector professionals engaged in vaccine development," the prime minister said.

What challenges did India face during its vaccination drive?

India faced multiple challenges in its vaccination drive, including myths around inoculation and the shortage of vaccines. Health experts and doctors believe that the second COVID-19 wave which hit India in April and May severely affected the public health system, impacting the vaccination drive in the country.

Speaking to Jagran English, Dr Swadeep Srivastava, Founder and Chairman of HEAL Foundation and India Virtual Hospital, said that due to the second wave, India faced an "overwhelming supply crisis" that forced it to stop vaccine export. However, he said that the country "managed and overcame" the crisis, reaching the 100-crore mark.

"Since the second wave of COVID-19 infections struck India in March 2021, the country has been devastated. With more than 25 million cases and 300,000 reported deaths, the virus has delivered a knockout punch to the public health system, with the most marginalized communities bearing the brunt of it," he told Jagran English.

Dr Srivastava also said that myths around vaccination was another challenge that India faced. He told Jagran English that people who are against vaccination are the victims of misinformation and appealed to them to get vaccinated immediately as it is the only way to stop the pandemic.

(pic credits: Twitter -- @mygovindia)

"It is already proven that Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body's natural defences - the immune system - to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. After vaccination, if the body is later exposed to those disease-causing germs, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness. Therefore, come out of the misinformation and get vaccinated," he said.

What lies ahead for India?

As India has completed the 100 crore vaccination mark, the country is heading towards a safer state and would help it in avoiding a third possible wave of the pandemic. However, medical experts feel that India should now focus on vaccinating those who are yet to receive a jab.

Talking about booster shots, experts are unclear about it and feel that only time will tell whether India will need it or not. "If experts' opinions are to be believed, less than 15 per cent of Indian adults have been vaccinated with two doses, and this means that all Indians who are more vulnerable to infection have not yet necessarily gotten two doses. Therefore, as of now, a booster dose is not required for India," Dr Srivastava told Jagran English.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma