KOLKATA: The COVID-19 vaccination drive was launched in West Bengal along with the rest of the country on Saturday when 75 percent of the targeted beneficiaries received the shot in the state, health department officials said.
Around 21,000 beneficiaries were supposed to be vaccinated at 207 centers across the state on the first day, but 16,500 people got the vaccine till about 6 pm when the process concluded.
Officials said that 25 percent of the beneficiaries did not turn up at designated centers probably because they were not sure about the efficacy of the vaccine.
Only four persons at various vaccination centers complained of minor discomfort after receiving the shots, they said.
Raja Chowdhury, a Group D staff at the state-run SSKM Hospital in Kolkata, was given the first dose of Covishield as the inoculation exercise started at 10.30 am in presence of Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, an official said.
"Today I feel so relieved after receiving the vaccine. It's a lifetime experience and I will tell everyone about it. All these months, I have seen what this disease can do to a family, how dreams have been shattered," Chowdhury told PTI.
However, a private hospital claimed that Bipasha Seth, a doctor associated with it, is the first person who got inoculated in the state.
"It's a great day for humankind. I feel elated to get the first dose," said Seth.
West Bengal's Minister of State for Labour Nirmal Maji, who is also a doctor, too received the Covishield vaccine at the Kolkata Medical College and Hospital.
The CoWIN portal, a digital platform created by the Centre to monitor the vaccination process across the country, did not function properly for a major portion of the day, an official said.
"We had to note down everything manually. Our volunteer officers monitored the entire process very minutely and after taking down the details sent them to the health department," he said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee virtually addressed doctors, nurses, hospital support staff at the 207 sites.
She said that she was thankful to the healthcare workers for standing by the people of the state during the pandemic and providing medical treatment to COVID-19 patients and others.