The national immunisation drive against Covid-19 was expanded to include those between 15 and 17 years of age on January 3 and Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, on Saturday, said that more than two crore beneficiaries in the age group have been jabbed within a week after the drive commenced.

Noting that the drive has been progressing rapidly, the minister said, “Over 2 crore youngsters between the 15-18 age group have received their first dose of #COVID19 vaccine in less than a week of vaccination drive for children,” in a tweet.

Data from the Co-WIN dashboard at 1.50 pm showed that between January 1 and 7, as many as 20,226,790 people between 15 and 17 years of age have been inoculated with the vaccine.

The remarks from Mandaviya came a day after the country’s vaccination drive was appreciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday for administering more than 1.5 billion (150 crore) vaccine doses.

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Modi, who was speaking during the inauguration of the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) in Kolkata, called the feat a “historic milestone” and thanked the scientists, vaccine makers and the Union health ministry.

“The country started the year (2022) with vaccination for children in the age group of 15 to 18 years. At the same time, in the first week of the first month of the year itself, India is also achieving the historic milestone of 150 crore, 1.5 billion, vaccine doses,” he said.

Mandaviya too lauded the milestone and called it “a historic effort, a historic achievement” and thanked the medical workers in the country.

Modi during his address to the nation on December 25, announced the inclusion of those above 15 years of age in the vaccination drive and also the ‘precautionary doses’ of vaccine for healthcare and frontline workers along with those above 60 years of age having comorbid conditions. The move was made in view of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

On Saturday, India witnessed more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases for the second straight day after 141,986 people tested positive in the last 24 hours. The Omicron tally in the country was recorded at 3,071, of whom 1,203 have recovered.

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