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Odisha formally launched the third phase of COVID-19 vaccination for people in the 18-44 age group here on Monday, with beneficiaries being administered the first dose of Covaxin, a health department official said.

The drive is underway at all government hospitals in the state capital.

The third-phase of vaccination is taking place between 8 am and 1 pm, while those above 45 years will receive the shots from 3-6 pm, according to the schedule announced by the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation.

People who have registered on COWIN, UMANG or Arogya Setu are being administered the jabs, he said.

The third phase had a symbolic dry-run on Saturday after the state received 1.5 lakh doses.

The civic body has set a target of vaccinating 5 lakh people in Bhubaneswar for which it requires about 10.34 lakh doses, the official said.

A large number of young people were seen standing in queues outside government hospitals since morning, braving the scorching sun.

The third phase of the inoculation drive, however, could not be taken up outside the state capital due to paucity of doses, another official said.

Vaccination is underway in only 256 of the 1,500 session sites in the state, he said.

Director (Family Welfare), Bijay Panigrahi, said immunisation in private hospitals in Bhubaneswar has also been stopped.

Panigrahi said the Odisha government has placed orders for 25 lakh doses of Covishield.

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