Shots in store, Delhi set for vaccine roll-out
Capital receives 264,000 doses of Covishield; CM Kejriwal to launch the vaccination drive at Lok Nayak hospital.
Delhi’s Rajiv Gandhi Superspeciality hospital in east Delhi’s Tahirpur received 264,000 doses of Covishield -- the Indian variation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) – as India on Tuesday began the massive task of transporting the Covid-19 vaccine to all parts of the country ahead of the January 16 start of the immunisation drive against the coronavirus disease.
In Delhi, the vaccination drive will be launched at 89 centres – which are part of the 5,000 sites approved by the Centre across the country – with healthcare workers being the first ones to get the jab. In Delhi, the drive is scheduled to be formally launched by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal at Lok Nayak hospital, a senior government official said.
“Delhi is fully prepared and all preparations are in place,” said Delhi’s health minister Satyendar Jain.
The 89 locations approved so far include – 49 private hospitals and 40 public healthcare facilities. They include hospitals such as Lok Nayak, AIIMS, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, Sir Gangaram Hospital, Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Fortis, Indraprastha Apollo, Rajiv Gandhi Superspeciality (Cancer), Rajiv Gandhi Superspeciality (Tahirpur), ILBS, Venkateshwar Hospital (Dwarka), Madan Mohan Malviya (Malviya Nagar), Moolchand Hospital and St Stephen’s Hospital.
Preparations at the 89 selected vaccination locations were on a full swing on Tuesday, with district officials taking note of any last-minute requirements. “We, the district officials, are just going to the sites and taking note of any last-minute additions or logistics that needs to be taken care of,” said a second government official.
On the first day, one booth or vaccination site each will be there at 89 centres. However, over the next week, the government has planned to increase the total number of booths to at least 225, by setting up multiple vaccination sites in some of the locations, said a senior government official.
The official added, “We have set up teams that have assessed the 89 vaccination locations. Several of them are capable of accommodating more than one vaccination site.”
The teams have so far identified several hospitals that include Lok Nayak and AIIMS as locations that can have three or more vaccination sites, said the official. “At each site, there has to be space not only for vaccination but also for verification of candidates, and rooms where they can rest while being monitored for at least 30 minutes after taking the shot,” he said.
Each booth will administer a maximum of 100 vaccine shots a day and run by six to eight staff.
A health department official said, “There are 621 functional cold chain points. Each cold chain point will be connected to four to five vaccination sites. This means, most of the big hospitals will have more than one vaccination sites as they would need to quickly vaccinate all their own staff, before moving on to others from smaller centres,” said a health department official.
With time, the government aims to increase both vaccination locations and vaccination sites. “We had sent a list of more than 600 locations, of which 89 have been approved by the central government so far. In the coming days, more locations are likely to get approved. Eventually, we have plans to increase vaccinations sites to 1,000 in several phases,” the official added.
On Tuesday morning, 22 boxes containing 1,200 vials each of the vaccine was brought to Rajiv Gandhi Superspeciality hospital’s utility block that has been retrofitted with 90 deep freezers which can store 4.1 million doses of the vaccine. “Each of the vials contains ten doses of the vaccine. So far, Delhi has received 264,000 vaccine doses that will be almost enough for the healthcare workers in the city,” said another senior government official.
“There are three levels of security that will be in place – first there are CCTV cameras installed within and outside the building, second there are hospital guards stationed at the vaccine store round the clock, and police personnel deployed outside the store,” said Dr Chavvi Gupta, spokesperson for the hospital.
The Delhi has pegged the number of healthcare workers at 300,000, of which around 225,000 have already been registered. The government has planned to finish giving them the vaccine shots by the end of this month, said another official.
Next in line would be frontline workers – a wide range of people including police, teachers, sanitation, and civil defence volunteers. Their total number has been estimated at 600,000 and registration process for them is underway.
The third category that would include people aged over 50 years and those with serious comorbidities irrespective of age. The government has roughly pegged the number at 4.2 million for these categories taken together but, senior officials said, it is likely to witness increase. Registration for this category is yet to begin.
While the government has prepared a draft list of people over 50 years through electoral data, those with comorbidities are yet to be identified, the official said.
“We are committed to ensuring that the vaccination goes smoothly for people who are vaccinated as well as officials and workers involved in the process,” said Dr Suneela Garg, professor of community medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College and advisor to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).