Walk-in registration for jabs in next phase
Members of the general public eligible for the next phase of coronavirus vaccinations beginning March 1 can walk up to a vaccination centre to be registered for a dose, the Union government told states on Friday, while outlining new guidelines and features that are being included in the Co-WIN platform.
The decision will allow anyone above the age of 60 and those older than 45 but with illnesses that make them more vulnerable to Covid-19 to approach government and private hospitals for shots, a substantial opening up of the campaign that is now crucial to mitigate a second wave of infections that appears to be building up in at least some states.
The Co-WIN platform is the digital backbone of the vaccination drive, and anyone who needs to get a dose must be registered on it. The government took the platform offline for the weekend to upgrade it to Co-WIN 2.0, which will allow all eligible people to be included.
“The States and UTs were explained the basic features of version 2.0 of the digital platform Co-WIN, which is a population-scale software with capacity of processing several thousands of entries. The new phase of vaccination of age-appropriate groups will expand the Covid-19 vaccination in the country manifold,” the health ministry said.
The vaccination drive at present is limited to health care workers and frontline services staff such as police and sanitation workers. The government also said on Friday that anyone of these who have been left out will also be allowed to seek doses at any centre they want to.
“With a citizen-centric approach, the fundamental shift in this phase is that citizens in the identified age groups, as also those health care workers and frontline who have been missed out or left out of the present phase of vaccination, can select vaccination centres of their choice,” the statement added.
Since the drive began on January 16, over 13 million doses have been delivered across the country. But the coverage has been lower than expected with only 48 people turning up on average for every 100 people expected for each session, government data showed.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan and the chairman of the empowered group on vaccine administration (Co-WIN), RS Sharma, virtually met health secretaries and mission directors (national health mission) of states and union territories on Friday.
All Covid-19 vaccination will be at health care facilities – where doses will be free — such as sub health centres, primary health centres, community health centres, Ayushman Bharat health and wellness centres, subdivision hospitals, district hospitals, and medical college hospitals, the Centre said.
Private hospitals empanelled under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PM JAY) and similar State Health Insurance Schemes will also act as vaccination sites. Doses at private hospitals, however, will need to be paid for by the recipient. The rate will be capped and is expected to be disclosed over the weekend.
“This meeting was more of an orientation session for states to familiarize them with the changes that they will encounter in the process,” said a senior health ministry official, asking not to be named.
The process of registration will follow three routes, the ministry statement said. The first is for people to register themselves in advance using the Co-WIN 2.0 web portal or the Aarogya Setu application. Through this route, they will also be able to book an appointment for the vaccination at a centre of their choice.
The second option is to register on-site.
In the third option, volunteers and grassroots government staff such as accredited social health activists, auxiliary nurse midwives, panchayati raj representatives and women self-help groups will be utilized to help register people.
For anyone turning up at a vaccination centre, whether for a dose or for registration, their identities will be verified through their Aadhaar cards or Voter ID cards. People between the age of 45 and 59 will need to present a certificate from a registered medical practitioner to show that they suffer from diseases that make them more vulnerable (a list is expected from the government over the weekend).
Once anyone is given a dose, a digital QR-code based certificate will be issued.