‘300 mn people may get vaccinated simultaneously as per availability of doses’: Union health secy
According to the health ministry, vaccination across three priority groups will take place simultaneously depending on the availability of doses.
Healthcare workers, frontline workers, and those at the highest risk of dying from coronavirus disease (Covid-19) - such as those above the age of 50 or patients with comorbidities - are the three priority groups who have been recommended to receive the vaccine by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC).
Vaccination across the priority groups will take place simultaneously depending on the availability of doses, according to the health ministry.
“These are the recommendations of NEGVAC and the government has to take a decision based on it. The immunisation process across the groups will not be sequential; it can also happen simultaneously depending upon the availability of vaccine,” said Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan at a press briefing on Tuesday.
As per health ministry estimates, there are around 10 million healthcare workers, 20 million frontline workers, including the police and the army, and another 270 million people either above the age of 50 or with comorbidities.
He said the state, district and block-level structures have already been created to ensure a smooth delivery of the vaccine till the last mile.
The multi-level coordination mechanism created under the NEGVAC has a state-level steering committee headed by the chief secretaries to ensure coordination across departments. A state-level task force, headed by the state health secretary, to manage logistics for the vaccine delivery and administration, and a 24x7 state-level control room have also been set-up. At district level, a district task force headed by the district collector, an urban task force headed by the municipal commissioner, and a district control room will do the same. A block-level task force and block control room will also be created.
Bhushan said that the teams had already started meeting or will do so at state level latest by December 8, at district level latest by December 14, and at block level by December 15.
As for the infrastructure needed for vaccine delivery, Bhushan said that there were 85,634 devices available, such as deep freezers, freezer trucks, and iceboxes. A survey of additional needs has already been done and requisite orders have been placed, he said.
There are 28,947 cold chain points where the vaccines and syringes are stored. “These are adequate for storing the existing vaccines for the universal immunisation programme and another 3 crore vaccine doses for the first phase of vaccination,” said Bhushan.