Delhi begins COVID-19 vaccination for people above 18; all slots booked for next 2 days

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New Delhi, May 3 (PTI) The Delhi government on Monday launched a mega COVID-19 inoculation exercise for people in the 18-44 age group, who comprise more than half of the city's population, with all the 301 vaccination centres witnessing '100 per cent turnout'.

These 301 centres have been established in 76 schools in the city.

Around 92 lakh people are eligible for the jabs in the 18-44 age group. According to the 2011 census, Delhi's population is 1.68 crore.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said all the centres witnessed '100 per cent turnout' on the first day. 'All slots are booked for the next two days,' an official said.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, 'I am glad that the vaccine process for 18+ has started smoothly. It's heartening to see that youngsters are coming out in large nos to get vaccinated. Get your elders vaccinated too. Encourage ur friends and relatives also to get vaccinated.' Sisodia, who visited a vaccination centre in west Vinod Nagar, said people informed him that they did not face any trouble getting vaccinated at the centres.

However, they faced difficulties getting an appointment.

'This is because we have only 4.5 lakh vaccines now, but we will resolve these challenges as we continue to expand our centres,' he said.

Sisodia, who is also the nodal minister for COVID-19 management in Delhi, said the city government wants to increase the number of vaccination centres per location to 10.

'Our target is to establish 3,000 such centres in 300 schools, subjected (sic) to the availability of vaccine,' he said in a tweet.

'We are in constant touch with companies and will continue to receive more doses,' he added.

More than 45,000 beneficiaries in this category can get jabs at the 301 centres in a day, the official said.

The government set up the vaccination centres in schools to accommodate the large number of beneficiaries in this phase, another official said.

Till now, vaccines were being given to those aged above 45 at around 500 centres in the national capital.

Around 60,000 people aged above 45 can be inoculated in the capital every day, officials said.

Pre-registration is mandatory for vaccination in the 18-44 age group, and there are no walk-ins under this category for now, the official said.

While the city's Max Hospital started vaccinating people in the 18-44 age group at limited centres from Saturday, Fortis Healthcare began the exercise on Sunday.

The Delhi government has placed orders for 1.34 crore vaccine doses, which will be delivered over the next three months.

Of these, 67 lakh doses are of Covishield vaccine, which are being procured from the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, officials said.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had on Thursday said a plan has been formulated to vaccinate all adults against the coronavirus within the next three months.

He had then said that everybody aged above 18 would be administered COVID-19 vaccines free of cost in Delhi.

'Cumulatively, more than 33 lakh doses have been administered since the initiation of COVID-19 vaccination in Delhi. More than 7 lakh beneficiaries have been given 2 doses,' a government official said. PTI GVS/SLB TDS TDS