Covid-19 vaccination dry run kicks off in 4 states
Health care and grassroots staff in four states — one each in the county’s east, north, west and south — carried out drills for coronavirus vaccinations on Monday, testing the core technology platform, transport arrangements, and the methods for monitoring and reporting serious side effects.
The exercise was carried out in Sonitpur and Nalbari districts in Assam, Rajkot and Gandhinagar in Gujarat, Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr) in Punjab and Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh. Further drills will be held on Tuesday.
The exercise comes at a time when drug regulators are expected any day to take a decision on giving emergency approvals to pave way for the first shots to be given. The country targets to deliver doses, likely to be in a regimen of two, to 300 million people by the summer – one of the largest logistical exercises to be undertaken outside of the elections.
According to officials aware of the process, Monday’s drills largely focused on testing the digital platform Co-Win but transportation, cold storage and crowd management at vaccination centres were also assessed.
“Two generic problems were faced by all states that we are trying to sort out: one was during the adverse event reporting wherein the staff had to originally wait for the entire session of 100 people to end before they could upload the information...
“Another that has been seen is mapping of pincode against villages; if the pincode is not mapped in the app then the staff on ground will have to do it manually after due verification against the address mentioned by the beneficiary. There is always a margin for error when you are verifying something manually, which is why we will ensure all pincodes are mapped,” said a senior health ministry official, asking not to be named.
In the case of the first problem, this person explained, authorities would need to wait till all 100 people in one session are vaccinated before they can report the side effects, which could lead to a delay. “It has, therefore, been decided to make modifications in the app to allow real-time feeding of adverse event report post vaccination,” said the official.
According to Krishna district collector Imtiaz Ahmed, the drills for vaccination centres were held in teams of five. “In all, three chambers were identified for the exercise – registration of beneficiaries in the first chamber, vaccination in the second chamber and evaluation in the third chamber,” he said.
There were five vaccination centres for the drill in the district, comprising 25 health care workers.
The exercise was videotaped at all five centres. “Reports would be submitted to state- and district-level task forces,” Ahmed said, adding that the state task force will review the feedback to guide further actions and send it to the Union ministry of health and family welfare.
An official in Punjab said while Monday’s exercise included mock registration of volunteers, Tuesday is when they will be called for the vaccination drill.
“On the first day of the dry run, 25 health beneficiaries were called at each site to check the data entry in Co-WIN app, which is the online portal for monitoring of vaccine delivery,” said Punjab’s nodal officer for Covid-19, Dr Rajesh Bhaskar.
Data of 300 health beneficiaries was entered in the portal and all beneficiaries received a message on their mobile phones about the successful registration, Bhaskar said.
“The successful registration also showed the proper creation of session sites and its allocation, linking and management. Now, on Tuesday, these 300 beneficiaries will visit their assigned sites in their district for online verification. After completing the verification, we will enter the data in the Co-WIN app that they have successfully reported at the health centre. Once we will give them vaccine shots, we will enter that vaccine has been provided to the health beneficiary, to avoid miss or repetition,” he said.
“The dry run is an exercise to assess the entire process of vaccination as to how it will reach the end user through our cold chains,” he added. “We will identify the challenges, once the drive is complete. We will make changes in the plan, if required, so that the final process gets completed without faults,” he added.
The initial target of 300 million comprises people who are deemed to need the coronavirus vaccine the soonest. These include health care staff and front-line workers such as police and firefighters, who are followed by people above the age of 50 and those under that age but with comorbid conditions that put them more at risk for a serious or fatal outcome from Covid-19.
(With inputs from HTCs in Chandigarh and Hyderabad)