NEW DELHI—India started a massive vaccination campaign this weekend, hoping to use its unique skills at mobilizing millions to progress quickly in its efforts to protect its populace from Covid-19.
Hundreds of thousands of health-care workers—the first people to get the vaccines—lined up across the country to get their shots, in a nationwide effort that tapped the talents of millions of people to make, deliver, register, administer, monitor and protect the shots, said India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
India is targeting around 300,000 doses a day and will increase inoculations depending on how much vaccine is available, Mr. Vardhan said. The country aims to inoculate 300 million of its 1.3 billion people by August. Over the weekend it was still off the pace needed to hit that target, with around 191,000 people receiving shots on Saturday and 17,000 getting them on Sunday when the campaign was closed in most states.
“This is a huge exercise,” said Mr. Vardhan, who wrote a book about India’s efforts to eradicate polio. “India has tremendous experience in handling these issues.”
While some countries have struggled with the scale and complexity of a nationwide vaccine drive, India is confident it can do better because of its experience inoculating its poor populace and maintaining election infrastructure for close to one billion voters.