New Delhi: In a big development, the Government of India has issued guidelines to all States and Union Territories for the COVID-19 inoculation drive in anticipation of a Coronavirus vaccine against the pandemic in the country.
The Government of India has drawn up a detailed plan for the COVID-19 inoculation drive in the country. It has already announced that the vaccine would be offered first to healthcare workers, frontline workers and to persons above 50 years of age. This will be followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities based on the evolving COVID-19 pandemic situation, and finally to the remaining population based on the disease epidemiology and vaccine availability.
Vaccinating 100-200 people in each session per day, monitoring them for 30 minutes after administering the shots for any adverse event and allowing only one beneficiary at a time are among the guidelines.
According to the guidelines issued to States recently, the COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system — a digitalised platform — will be used to track enlisted beneficiaries for the vaccination and anti-Coronavirus vaccines on a real-time basis. At the vaccination site, only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated in accordance with the prioritisation, and there will be no provision for on-the-spot registrations. States have been asked to allocate the vaccine from one manufacturer to a district to avoid mixing of different COVID vaccines in the field.
Photo Id documents
Under phase one of the vaccination, it is planned to vaccinate nearly 30 crore population. Twelve photo-identity documents, including Voter ID, Aadhaar card, driving licence, passport and pension document, will be required for self-registration on the Co-WIN website, it added. As per ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines’, all measures should be taken to avoid exposing the vaccine carrier, vaccine vials or ice packs to direct sunlight.
Vaccines and diluents should be kept inside the vaccine carrier with the lid closed until a beneficiary comes to the centre for vaccination. “There may not be vaccine vial monitors (VVM) and date of expiry on the label of COVID-19 vaccine, this should not discourage vaccinators from using the vaccine. At the end of the session, the vaccine carrier with all ice packs and unopened vaccine vials should be sent back to the distributing cold chain point,” the guidelines said.
States have been asked to implement an integrated 360-degree comprehensive advocacy communication and social mobilisation strategy to address the challenges surrounding vaccine roll-out progress and benefits.The Centre has stated that the country stands on the cusp of COVID-19 vaccine administration, even as certain challenges need to be countered well in time.
The vaccination team will consist of five members, it said. Each session should be planned for 100 beneficiaries per day. If the session site has adequate logistics and space available for waiting room and observation room along with arrangement for crowd management, one more vaccinator officer can be added to create a session for 200 beneficiaries, the guidelines stated.
The priority group of above 50 years may be further subdivided into those above 60 years of age and those between 50 to 60 for the phasing of roll-out based on pandemic situation and vaccine availability. “The latest electoral roll for Lok Sabha and Assembly election will be used to identify the population aged 50 years or more,” the guidelines stated.
‘Be prepared for adverse effects’
Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has said that 29,000 cold chain points, 240 walk-in coolers, 70 walk-in freezers, 45,000 ice-lined refrigerators, 41,000 deep freezers and 300 solar refrigerators will be used for the Covid-19 vaccine storage. “All necessary resources of vaccination have been delivered to the States,” he added.
To be sure, 36 States and Union Territories (UTs) have concluded meetings of State Steering Committees and State Task Force. As many as 633 districts have concluded meetings of District Task Force. Furthermore, training modules for medical officers, vaccinator officers, alternative vaccinator officers, cold chain handlers, supervisors, data managers, ASHA coordinators etc., are also finalised. Physical training as well as training on virtual / online platforms have started.
He told media, “Adverse events following immunisation is a critical issue. When we undertake a universal immunisation programme, which has been done for decades, then some adverse effects are seen in children and pregnant women after vaccination. We can’t deny chances of an adverse event when COVID-19 vaccination begins. The countries where immunisation has already begun, especially in the UK, adverse events took place on the very first day. So, it is essential that States and UTs prepare for this too.”