Covid vaccine in Maharashtra: 1st batch of vials in hand, state to inoculate 800K people in two months
Starting from January 16, the state is expecting to complete vaccination of 800,000 health workers in the next two months. The state received 963,000 vials of the Covishield vaccine, of the 1 million to be provided by the Centre in the first lot, at its facility in Pune on Tuesday evening and said it will start the distribution process once it receives a list from the Centre.
However, each person is required to take two doses and the stock provided is inadequate. To that, officials have said the gap between two doses is 28 days and thus they have sufficient time to get another stock of vials from the Centre.
The Centre is providing both vaccines — Covishield of Serum Institute of India (SII) and Covaxin of Bharat Biotech — approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) for Covid-19, irrespective of the demand made by the state government for providing only one type of vaccine to avoid confusion.
“We have received first stock of 963,000 vials from the Centre and following the guidelines, they will be distributed to 511 vaccination centres, covering all districts and cities in the state. We have also developed 3,135 cold chains to be used for storing vaccines,” said health minister Rajesh Tope on Tuesday.
Dr Ramaswami N, commissioner, family welfare and director, National Health Mission, said the state has got the stock from SII in Pune. “The central government has communicated to provide 963,000 vials of Covishield (SII) and 20,000 vials of Covaxin (Bharat Biotech). We have received SII stock directly from Pune, from where it is going to be distributed in refrigerated trucks,” he said.
However, the Centre will decide how many vials are going to be distributed to a particular region. This led to a delay in dispatching the stock to the respective regions as the state did not receive the distribution list, at least till the time of going to press.
“We have received the vaccine stock at the Pune facility and are waiting for the distribution list from the Centre to start the process. The Centre is deciding which region will get how many vials. The vaccines are ready to be transported by road in refrigerated trucks and they will start moving as soon as we get the approval. We are hoping to get the nod in the next few hours, following which trucks for regions like Nagpur that are far-off will be released immediately so that we can cover districts like Gadchiroli by January 14,” said Dr DN Patil, state immunisation officer.
“We have planned the distribution of vaccines by road and a delay of every hour would make the task difficult for us considering the distance. Health is a state subject and at least it should be given the powers to decide the distribution plan, but Centre has said that since registration of all healthcare providers was done at Co-WIN app and since they know which areas has how many health workers, we will take the decision,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
The state has planned to cover around 30 million people in the first three phases, which are likely to be completed in six months, the officials said.
“According to the priority groups created by the Centre, healthcare providers are going to be provided the vaccination in the first phase, frontline workers in the second phase and people above 50 years of age and those with comorbidities below the age of 50 will be given vaccine shots in the third phase of the drive,” the health minister
The healthcare workers, include public as well as private workers, who are again divided into nine categories. Of around 800,000 healthcare providers, registration of 784,000 has been completed and the rest can register on the Co-WIN app, developed by the Centre, by Tuesday midnight.
The state government has trained 17,749 vaccinators to administer shots to the beneficiaries. It has also developed 3,135 cold chains, covering one state-level cold storage, nine regional-level cold storages, 34 district-level cold storages and 27 municipal corporation-level cold storages. In addition, 21 walk-in-coolers, four walk-in-freezers, 4,153 ice-lined refrigerators and 3,937 deep freezers are going to be used for the drive. The Centre has also provided 1,200 vaccine carriers that have also been distributed among districts, Tope informed.
Of the total 511 vaccination camps set up across the state, each will be covering 100 beneficiaries in a day. Each centre will have a team of five with one vaccinator and four supporting staff, who will confirm a person’s identity, ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour has been followed at the centre, make entries on the mobile application (Co-WIN) and follow the Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) protocol in case a person starts facing health complication or side effects post vaccination,” the health minister said.