By Naveen Kapoor
New Delhi [India], December 21 (ANI): The coronavirus vaccine cannot be forced upon anyone but the government will educate and give the right information to people about it, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday.
"Vaccine hesitancy issues will be addressed through education. The government will spread awareness and educate people about the vaccine that this is for their own good and benefit," Harsh Vardhan said in an interview with ANI.
He also said that the government had prioritised who will get the vaccines after observing international trends and keeping in mind the guidelines of the World Health Organisation.
"The ideal time would be when we reach a point where everyone can be vaccinated. But if there is a limited number of vaccines, it is important to prioritise how who will be the first to get it. Before taking a decision, the government consulted experts, those in the ministries, people in the state governments, and those involved in making vaccines. These decisions have been made while observing international trends and WHO guidelines," the Union Minister said.
He said the first one crore people to be vaccinated will be the health workers in the private and public sector, while the next two crores to be vaccinated will be frontline workers, sanitation staff, police, and other frontline workers, followed by people over the age of 50.
"Over 80 percent of the people who died due to Covid-19 have been over 50 years. There are about 26 crore people in this category. After that, people below 50 with health issues like BP, heart and kidney problems will be vaccinated," he said.
"The government will reach out to people to get their vaccines but if someone does not want to take the vaccine, they cannot be forced," he added.
Earlier, the Union Health Minister had said that India may begin vaccinating people for Covid-19 by January, with the first priority being the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
On Saturday, the minister had said that the country's scientists and health experts have worked on the development of an indigenous vaccine and in the upcoming six to seven months India will have the capacity to inoculate about 30 crore people.
There are currently nine Covid-19 vaccine candidates in different phases of clinical trials in India -- six are under clinical trials and three in the pre-clinical phase.
With 26,624 new Covid-19 cases recorded in the last 24 hours, India's total coronavirus cases reached 1,00,31,223 on Sunday, data from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.
As many as 29,690 recoveries have been reported in the last 24 hours. The total numbers of recovered and active cases in the country are 95,80,402 and 3,05,344 respectively. Meanwhile, the country's death toll stands at 1,45,477. (ANI)