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Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the Covid shot this morning at Delhi’s AIIMS hospital, becoming the first beneficiary in the second phase of the nationwide vaccination against the coronavirus.

PM Modi was administered the home-grown Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as India today began vaccinating people over 60 and those over 45 who have illnesses.

“Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19,” PM Modi tweeted, sharing an image of himself taking first dose of the vaccine.

PM Modi also appealed to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine.

“Together, let us make India COVID-19 free,” he said.

The PM’s vaccination was replete with symbols from states where elections will be held in March-April; he wore a gamocha or scarf from Assam and nurses from Puducherry and Kerala administered the dose. The scarf “is symbolic of blessings of women from Assam”, officials said. The Prime Minister has been seen wearing it on many occasions.

A statement from his office said he chose to take the shot early and was taken to AIIMS without any special route restrictions to avoid any inconvenience to the people.

Apart from Covaxin, Pune-based Serum Institute’s Covishield, developed in patnership with Oxford University and pharma giant AstraZeneca, is being used in the vaccination drive which began on January 16.

More vaccines are likely to be approved for use in the coming months, including Russia’s Sputnik-V and Cadila Healthcare’s ZyCov-D.

India will expand its coronavirus vaccination programme today to cover people over 60 and those over 45 who have illnesses as it hopes to rein in a growing number of more infectious virus strains and a spurt in cases in some states.

Registrations are set to open at 9 am at www.cowin.gov.in and the Aarogya Setu app and there will be walk-in vaccinations in some places as well. India began its vaccination drive on January 16 intending to inoculate three crore frontline workers but has struggled with hesitancy, giving out some 1.43 crore shots so far.

The government hopes to vaccinate 30 crore people by August in this second phase.