The Union Health Ministry on Sunday said that 447 adverse events following immunisation were reported across the country since India’s coronavirus vaccination drive began on January 16. An adverse event following immunisation, or AEFI, is any unexpected medical occurrence following inoculation but may or may not be related to the vaccine or the vaccination process.

In a statement, the ministry said that three of the 447 cases needed hospitalisation. “Of these, one has been discharged from Northern Railway Hospital Delhi within 24 hours; one has been discharged from AIIMS [All India Institute of Medical Sciences] Delhi; and one is under observation in AIIMS Rishikesh and is being monitored,” the government said in its Sunday’s press release on the coronavirus vaccination.

It said that most of the AEFIs are minor such as fever, headache and nausea. “Protocols are in place for reporting, immediate case management at vaccination session site, transportation and hospitalization and further care of such cases,” the minister said. “Protocols are also in place for systematic investigation and causality assessment of serious AEFIs.”

So far, 2,24,301 beneficiaries have received vaccines against the coronavirus in India. A total of 17,072 frontline workers were administered the vaccines during 553 sessions held in six states on Sunday. On the first day on Saturday, 1,91,181 beneficiaries were vaccinated.

India, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus infections after the United States, plans to vaccinate around 300 million people with two doses in the first six to eight months of the year. The recipients include 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers, to be followed by people who are either over 50 or have illnesses that make them vulnerable to Covid-19.

Beneficiaries, however, will not be able to choose between the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, a government-backed, indigenous one from Bharat Biotech, whose efficacy is not known.

51 adverse events reported in Delhi, says health minister

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Sunday said that 51 adverse events were reported in the national Capital and one of them was “serious”, reported NDTV. The patient is a 22-year-old security guard who works at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

Jain said that 4,319 healthcare workers were vaccinated at 81 centres in Delhi on January 16. Delhi had aimed at inoculating 8,117 health workers on day one of the drive but only half of the target could be achieved.

When asked about the low vaccination numbers, the health minister said that the figure was close to half in every place in the country. “Everywhere it has to be the same reason,” he said.

Jain said that many people did not come for the vaccination but added that the vaccination was completely voluntary. “Even after being registered, nobody is under the compulsion to get vaccinated,” he said.

No side effect in Maharashtra, says health minister

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Sunday said that no AEFIs or side-effects of the coronavirus vaccines have been found in Maharashtra so far, reported PTI. “There has absolutely been no report of any adverse reaction or side-effects of the vaccine following the drive on Saturday [January 16],” said Tope. “Everything was safe, it will be safe.”

Earlier, a health department official said that 18,425 beneficiaries, which is 65% of the target, were vaccinated in the state on January 16. Following the first day’s vaccination drive, the Maharashtra government had suspended the inoculation programme till Monday after problems emerged in the Co-WIN app, the Centre’s app to manage registrations during the drive.

“There will be improvement by today or tomorrow,” Tope said. “And from Tuesday, we will conduct the drive again. Anyways, we have to conduct the drive for four days in a week. So, we can undertake it from Tuesday to Friday.”