Kolkata: Life almost came to a standstill after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Almost 10 month down the line, pessimism and dismay turned into hope and optimism as the process of vaccination started in India on Saturday.
West Bengal Labour Minister and medical practitioner Nirmal Maji was one of those who got the vaccine at Kolkata Medical College on Day 1, as citizens of this poll-bound state look to usher in the ‘old normal’ they were accustomed to in the pre-COVID days.
Talking to Odisha Bytes, Maji said that since he is a doctor, he was fortunate to get vaccinated on Saturday.
“Today is a big day for us. It seems we are slowly coming out of the pandemic. After vaccination, everyone is being monitored for half an hour to see whether the person is developing any side-effect, otherwise no other special measure is needed. The first seven days after vaccination is very important,” mentioned Maji.
He informed he had been administered the Covishield vaccine as West Bengal has received the Oxford-AstraZeneca brand, which has been manufactured by Serum Institute of India, Pune.
Maji felt Covishield is a better option than Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, and has no side-effect.
Medical Superintendent-cum-Vice Principal of SSKM Hospital Raghunath Mishra, along with six doctors, is in charge of monitoring the vaccination process.
“We have six booths where 100 people each can be vaccinated in a day. But today we ran only one booth. We are preserving the vaccine vials in a cold chain system at four to eight degrees in the vaccine carrier, with extra ice bags which are changed after six to eight hours,” said Mishra.
“There are specialized doctors at the vaccination sites… in case of any emergency, they will address it immediately. We have also kept some beds aside to admit a patient, if necessary. We are not administering the vaccine to anyone with even slightest symptom of COVID-19,” Mishra added.
The vaccination programme started around 10.30 am at 212 session sites across West Bengal including medical colleges, urban primary healthcare centres and a few private hospitals.
Bipasha Seth was the first person to get vaccinated at a private hospital. Around 90,000 frontline health workers were shortlisted to get the jab on the first day.
The first coronavirus case in West Bengal was detected in Kolkata on March 17, 2020, after an 18-year-old student returned from UK. The first COVID-19 death in the state, that of a 57-year-old man, was reported on March 23.