Staff shortfall, improved internet connectivity among issues identified in vaccination dry run
Additional staff, better internet connectivity, and more time to manage any adverse events — these were some of the issues flagged by the three teams that conducted a dry run of the Covid-19 vaccination drive in Delhi on Saturday.
Saturday’s mock drive covered all state capitals, and was meant to assess the governments’ ability and readiness to administer shots to hundreds of millions of people, including many in remote corners of the country.
Three centres – a primary health centre in Daryaganj, Guru Teg Bahadur hospital in Dilshad Garden, and Venkateshwara hospital in Dwarka – conducted a mock vaccination drive with 25 identified health care workers as beneficiaries at each centre.
At the three sites, the beneficiaries had a government-issued identity card verified, their registration on the government CoWIN portal checked, their medical history taken, after which they were kept under observation for 30 minutes. Additionally, the sites also prepared for an adverse event, and recorded the time it took for patients to get emergency care.
CoWIN refers to the Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network, which will help both health authorities as well as the public play their respective roles in the immunisation drive.
“At our centre, everything went on smoothly for all 25 volunteers. We even practiced taking the patient to the linked Sanjeevani hospital, which is three minutes away, for treatment of any adverse event. The patient was admitted in the emergency department within 15 minutes,” said Arava Gopi Krishna, deputy commissioner (Central).
However, confusion over ID proof-checks prevailed at Guru Teg Bahadur hospital, where the volunteer beneficiaries as well as the staff were from the hospital itself.
“The name-tags of our vaccination officers were not prominently visible, leading to confusion about who was an officer at the site and who was a beneficiary. This has been addressed at our level. However, we have forwarded a suggestion to the state team that additional volunteers be posted at observation areas. People who are feeling fine might try to leave the area if the vaccine officer is engaged with something. We have decided to place a chair there itself with someone, noting the time the shot was given and monitoring the patient throughout the 30 minutes,” said Sanjeev Kumar, deputy commissioner (Shahdara).
In addition, there were issues with network connectivity for the CoWIN site that IT teams have been informed about.
“We have also suggested that some additional time be allotted for vaccination. Right now, the target is 100 people in seven hours. But if there is an adverse event, the vaccinator (the person administering the shot) will be needed to give immediate first aid and transfer the patient to the hospital. This will take around 30 minutes during which the rest of the activities will stop. So we might need some extra time,” said Kumar.
Vaccinators are provided a kit with emergency medicines like epinephrine, atropine, antihistamines, and oxygen to give immediate support in case someone has a reaction to the vaccine.
“We have been asked to monitor for rashes at the injection site, fever, breathlessness, seizure, and heart attacks,” said a nurse on duty at GTB hospital.
At the Venkateshwara hospital site, the deputy commissioner (south-west) Naveen Aggarwal said there was a need for additional staff in the waiting area for all the paperwork to speed up the process.
There will be around 1,000 vaccination sites that will aim to vaccinate 100,000 beneficiaries a day across Delhi once the vaccine becomes available.
Meanwhile, a vaccination dry run was conducted in Leh’s Ladakh Heart Foundation on Saturday, after which the district’s deputy commissioner Sachin Kumar Vaishya said staff at the hospital had flagged concerns over electricity supply that he assured would soon be resolved.
In Telangana, the dry run was conducted in three government healthcare facilities and a private hospital in Hyderabad and a government hospital in Mahbubnagar in Telangana on Saturday.
State governor Dr Tamilisai Soundarajan said around 500,000 people will be administered the vaccine in the first phase of the drive.