Youngsters raring to go after first dose vaccination boost

20,998 beneficiaries on first day of inoculation drive for the 15-17 age group

On a day active cases breached the 10,000 mark in the Capital, 20,998 adolescents got a shot in the arm as the vaccination programme opened for the 15-17 age group on Monday. Jabbed with the first dose of Covaxin, students said they were looking forward to the reopening of schools, catching up with friends, and going out.

At Safdarjung Hospital, the first day of the drive was a smooth affair. Those who had not registered online could walk in and receive a shot, but vaccination authorities at the hospital said they were not accepting school ID card as proof since it did not mention the age.

Sahana, 15, a resident of Chhattarpur, said she hoped her classes would resume soon.

“Initially, wearing a mask and social distancing was difficult but gradually I got used to it. But I am not going out as much as I used to do earlier,” the Class X student said when asked about what she missed the most during the pandemic.

E-learning woes

Several youngsters saw the immunity boost as an opportunity to say goodbye to Zoom classes and being confined to the four walls of their homes.

Aarti, 15, said she would rather the school authorities summoned everyone for daily physical classes.

“During the pandemic, the most difficult thing for me was coping with online classes. I understand and learn better through activities in (physical) class,” the ninth grader said. Agreed Poorva, 16, a Class XI student. “It is difficult to connect with teachers during online classes. Some get it, some don’t.”

For Vicky Tirkey, it was worse – he lost interest altogether during online classes. “You end up playing games on the phone while class is on. Going to school is better as you get to meet your friends and there are other activities too. Now, it is just books,” said the 15-year-old.

Moonsun Topno, who trudged to the hospital with his friends from neighbouring Kotla Mubarakpur, hoped the vaccine shot turns a corner for him. The 17-year-old, who is studying in Class XII through distance education, said he loved to play football and missed his regular training at an academy. The pandemic was a long horror saga for him. “My mother used to cook at five houses and when the pandemic began, she became jobless. It was difficult for us to even pay rent,” he said.

Seventeen-year-old Sudiksha Singh, a Class XII student, was worried about her future. “Now we can’t talk freely to teachers or each other about our future. Also, when we used to go out before the pandemic, it was refreshing. But now that you’re spending a lot of time in the house, I feel suffocated and under pressure,” she said.

Gurugram drive

In Gurugram, teenagers got an opportunity to interact with Deputy Commissioner Yash Garg and offer their feedback as the vaccination drive kicked off at DAV Public School in Sector 49. While there are around two lakh eligible adolescents in the 15-17 group, 7,527 lucky ones got their first dose on Monday.

(With inputs from Ashok Kumar)

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