The Union health ministry on Thursday said that the polio immunisation day has been rescheduled from January 17 to January 31, in view of the coronavirus inoculation drive which is set to begin on Saturday.

“The massive countrywide COVID-19 vaccination drive will be rolled out by Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] from 16th January, 2021,” the ministry said in a statement. “This would be world’s largest immunisation exercise.”

The health ministry added: “The decision is in keeping with the stated policy of the Health Ministry to ensure that Covid management and vaccination services as well as non-Covid essential health services proceed in tandem without adversely impacting each other.”

The government said that President Ram Nath Kovind will launch the Polio National Immunisation Day on January 30 by giving polio drops to children at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

The Centre had on Wednesday announced the postponement of the polio vaccination drive till further notice, citing “unforseen activities”.

The National Immunisation Day is also commonly known as Pulse Polio Immunisation programme. Under the scheme, children in the age group of zero to five years are given polio drops.

Also read: Interview: Could Covid-19 vaccination undo India’s hard-won battle against polio?

The Centre is planning to inoculate 30 crore people against the coronavirus over the next few months. About 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers will get the vaccine first. After that, people over the age of 50 and those with comorbidities will be vaccinated.

India has cleared two vaccines for emergency use – Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute’s Covishield. Both the companies have begun rolling out vaccines. Bharat Biotech dispatched the first batches of its coronavirus vaccine to Delhi and 10 other cities on Wednesday. A day before that, Serum Institute of India shipped its vaccines to 13 locations across the country.

India has so far reported 1,05,12,093 coronavirus cases and 1,51,727 deaths. As of Thursday morning, India’s active cases stood at at 2,13,603, while the number of recoveries reached 1,01,46,763.