Gurugram: Health department to assess storage infrastructure for possible Covid-19 vaccine

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Published on Sep 28, 2020 11:51 PM IST
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ByPrayag Arora-Desai, Gurugram

In anticipation of a possible vaccine for Covid-19, the district health department will be conducting a thorough assessment of the available ‘cold chain’ infrastructure in the coming weeks, officials confirmed on Monday.

The exercise will take stock of available cold chain equipment (CCE), such as walk-in freezers, walk-in coolers, ice-lined refrigerators and temperature-monitoring devices, which are used in the storage and transportation of vaccines. The assessment will also identify potential sites for bulk storage of vaccines, known as cold chain points (CCP).

Dr Naresh Garg, district immunisation officer and nodal officer for cold chain management in Gurugram, said, “We have not received an official intimation about the same, but are aware that Central orders have been issued earlier this month. As soon as we get the order from the state National Health Mission, we shall begin the task.”

Prabjot Singh, mission director, NHM, Haryana, did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

A senior doctor working with the NHM’s Universal Immunisation Program (UIP) in Haryana, seeking anonymity, confirmed that as per a central NHM order issued earlier this month, all states and union territories in India will be expected to create district-level plans for storage and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines within the next month. Task forces to oversee this preparation are expected to be constituted at the district- and block-levels.

“The main challenge in the delivery of this vaccine will be the immunisation coverage. The target population for our routine immunisation drives is confined to infants, children and mothers. With Covid-19, we have to vaccinate the population at large, which has not been done before,” the official said, adding that the vaccine would likely be administered in phases, beginning with health workers and high-risk groups.

Health department officials in the district added that in addition to assessing the availability of cold chain infrastructure, they will also be making plans to train an adequate number of qualified technicians in cold chain management. “Retaining the integrity of the vaccine requires its storage at a certain temperature. Otherwise, it will lose its efficiency. We will need to identify and train qualified cold chain managers, cold chain handlers and cold chain technicians for this purpose,” said Garg.

Gurugram district, which currently has 39 existing CCPs for storage and delivery of vaccines, also serves as the regional storage point for immunisation programs in four other districts, namely Faridabad, Rewari, Palwal and Jhajjar.

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