By Pragya Kaushika
New Delhi [India], May 1 (ANI): With "liberalised" vaccination regime coming into effect from Saturday, the Indian armed forces are set to attain the target of inoculation of 100 per cent vaccination against COVID-19.
Terming the COVID-19 vaccine as "armour", Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff Medical Lieutenant General Madhuri Kanitkar on Saturday told ANI, "Vaccine is armour in our battle against COVID-19."
Kanitkar also expressed gratitude towards the Centre and the union health ministry for prioritising the armed forces for vaccination.
"The armed forces are set to attain the target of inoculation of 100 per cent vaccination against COVID-19 because Prime Minister Narendra Modi really prioritised it. We are really grateful for that," Kanitkar said.
"The vaccine is safe, we all have taken it. We are not falling sick and it is proof that it is safe. That is the ultimate message. And now it has been opened up across ages," she added.
The deputy chief Integrated Defence Staff (Medical) further said that the armed forces had a very small number of COVID-19 cases due to a high percentage of inoculation amongst its personnel.
"In the Air Force and Navy, almost 95 per cent personnel have received their first dose of COVID vaccine. In the Army, almost everyone has received their first shot and a majority have also got their second shot. The cases of COVID-19 infection are very few among the serving personnel. And even if they are getting infected, they have mild symptoms. They are not blocking up hospital beds. They are fit and are able to get back and be able to serve," she added.
The official also pointed out that universal vaccination was the reason for a low number of COVID cases in the armed forces.
"We are very lucky and are getting fewer cases in our serving personnel because we were vaccinated first. In the armed forces, we have created a system for vaccination. We ramped up our polyclinics and hospitals. We created immunisation booths," she said.
Kanitkar also informed that initially there was hesitancy among personnel of armed forces regarding the COVID-19 jabs.
"There was initial hesitancy in some people who were worried. We took special initiative to talk to our troops, took the vaccines ourselves so that they are convinced," she added.
Amid the surge in coronavirus infections, the country on Saturday morning began its third phase on the COVID vaccination drive. However, some states have flagged the shortage of vaccines and expressed their inability to start vaccination of people above 18 years from the scheduled date due to the delay in procurement of vaccines. (ANI)