(Eds: Adding quotes of Maha CM and other info) Mumbai, Jan 11 (PTI) The preparations to launch the COVID-19 vaccination drive in Maharashtra from January 16 are in place, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Monday as he discussed the modalities with the state health department and task force members, shortly after his virtual interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the first phase of the exercise, healthcare staffers and frontline workers will be inoculated in Maharashtra.
PM Modi on Monday informed chief ministers of states about the vaccination programme, after which Thackeray held a meeting with the state's health department and task force members, an official statement said.
Thackeray said various departments should coordinate with each other to conduct the vaccination exercise as per the Centre's guidelines.
The chief minister also took stock of the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, transportation and storage, the statement said.
'The largest vaccination drive of the world will begin in the country (from January 16). Preparations have been completed in the state too and all the machineries should conduct the drive successfully in coordination with each other,' the statement quoted Thackeray as telling the officials.
As healthcare staffers and frontline workers will be vaccinated during the first phase of the drive, officials should ensure proper distribution and transportation of the vaccine and store it at the right temperature, the CM said.
He stressed adherence to COVID-19 rules even after vaccination begins, so as to ensure that the infection does not spread, the statement said.
During his interaction with chief ministers, the prime minister announced that the central government will bear the expenses of vaccinating nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers in the first round and suggested that public representatives, a reference to politicians, should not be part of this initial exercise.
Modi also underscored the enormity of what he described as the world's biggest vaccination exercise, saying over 30 crore citizens will get the jabs in the next few months in India against only 2.5 crore people who have received them in over 50 countries in around a month so far.
The Drugs Controller General of India has already approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country. PTI ENM BNM NSK NSK