Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the vaccination drive early on Saturday morning through a nationally televised video conference, setting off the process in over 3,006 centres across states and union territories.
The first jab was administered to health worker Manish Kumar at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) hospital amid a huge media frenzy and in the presence of health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Mr Kumar, 33, a sanitation worker at AIIMS, told media outlets that he had not felt any reluctance about getting the vaccine.
“Now I don’t have any doubts regarding the vaccine. Everyone must get inoculated,” he was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
Senior government officials also stepped forward to be among the first to receive their jabs, including AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria and Dr VK Paul, a senior member of NITI Aayog, the government’s policy think-tank, raising their shirt sleeves to receive the injection in front of dozens of TV cameras.
At several centres in India’s financial capital Mumbai and Pune, where vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) is based, people who registered to get the vaccine were welcomed with red roses.