Covid-19: Nationwide vaccination drive to start today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday launch the world’s biggest Covid vaccination programme in India, covering 300,000 recipients across 3,006 sites in the country on the opening day, according to the official schedule drawn up by the government.
In several parts of the country, eminent persons and doctors will be among the first to take a jab, apart from nurses, sanitation and anganwadi workers, driving home the message that the vaccine is safe.
Modi is expected to address the nation and interact with some of the beneficiaries in various states. According to officials across India, video conferencing arrangements have been made for the interaction and a webcast of the PM’s address would be done at almost all vaccination centres in the country.
Each centre will deploy vaccines from a single manufacturer to avoid mixing of doses in recipients, which is not permitted, said officials involved in the delivery programme that will be launched at 10.30am.
“If you consider a vaccination booth as a single unit then that unit will get vaccine supplies of a single Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer only. It will be either Covaxin or Covisheld so that there is no mixing of vaccines. As per the current plan, both the doses given to an individual will be from the same manufacturer. This will be to avoid any confusion,” said Dr VK Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog.
States have been given a free hand to increase the number of session sites, if needed, as a single site cannot administer the vaccine to more than 100 beneficiaries in a day. District administrators can create additional session sites at any location by entering the pin code, followed by specifying the locality or village, and subsequently assigning a vaccinator.
“We have to engage with people at many levels as part of the confidence building drive with regard to the Covid-19 vaccines. The objective is to assure them about their safety concerns in a scientific manner, put a rest to all unscientific fears and build confidence among large sections of people,” said Delhi chief secretary Vijay Dev.
On Wednesday, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had appealed to the people to stay alert against “misinformation” on the vaccine and focus on scientific expertise behind its making.
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed preparedness for the vaccination drive on Friday and also visited the ministry’s Covid control room to have a look at last-minute arrangements.
The main purpose of the review was to check the working of the CoWIN app, the digital platform that is the backbone of the delivery management system. The app will facilitate real-time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualised tracking of beneficiaries, besides assisting programme managers across national, state, and district levels. It will help track beneficiary coverage, dropouts, sessions planned versus those held and vaccine utilisation by volume.
“The platform enables national and state administrators to view and sort data of beneficiaries as per their gender, age and co-morbidity. They can also view the metadata of vaccinations and adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) reported from constituent districts across states and Union territories,” the health ministry said in a statement.
The ministry started the control room in April last year to monitor and analyse district-wise Covid-19 data from across the country and to interpret and evaluate the status of the pandemic.
In Delhi, 8,100 recipients will get the vaccine at 81 centres across the Capital. All health and sanitation workers getting the vaccine have been registered on CoWIN and each vaccination is expected to take 10-15 minutes.
Vaccines reached the states by Thursday, and have been kept in refrigerated rooms. Each beneficiary will receive a text message about the time of their vaccination to prevent rush at the centres. States have formed committees having a cardiologist and neurologist to monitor cases of adverse effects of the vaccine, if any.
In Tamil Nadu, Dr K Vinay Kumar, joint director (immunisation), directorate of public health and preventive medicine, said the vaccine will be administered on intramuscular parts such as in the arm, leg or back. Tamil Nadu has identified 10 prominent personalities in the medical field to take the vaccine to allay fears, state health minister C Vijayabhaskar said.
Dr Arun Sharma, 53, medical superintendent of the government super-specialty hospital in Jammu, would be among the first receivers. “I eagerly look forward to get the first jab on Saturday,” Sharma said.
In Assam, Dr Umesh Chandra Sarma, retired vice-chancellor, Srimanta Sankardeva University of Health Sciences, who would receive the first vaccine, said he was not apprehensive as he was a specialist in preventive medicine.
“I would request all to get vaccinated without any fear or apprehension so that we are able to defeat Covid-19,” he said. The Assam health department has invited 12 eminent persons to get the first doses of the vaccine including Sharma and Dr Dhrubajyoti Borah, former president of Assam Sahitya Sabha, the state’s biggest literary body, said health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Principal, SMS Medical College, Jaipur, Dr Sudheer Bhandari will be the first person in Rajasthan to be vaccinated with Covishield. “I have no inhibition in taking the vaccine as it is scientific and like any other flu shot. I am very comfortable,” he said. PK Kundu, former head of the School of Tropical Medicine in Kolkata, who would be the first to take the vaccine shot in Kolkata, said, “My family members, especially my wife, were a bit wary as I am going to take the vaccine in the first lot. But, there is nothing to worry about.”
In Punjab, chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh will inaugurate the vaccination drive at Mohali. Among the first to receive the shots will be health workers and safai karamcharis (sanitation staff). West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will launch the programme from the state secretariat and will interact with some beneficiaries. The Chhattisgarh government will launch the vaccination at 99 centres in the state, a health department official said, adding the state had received 332,000 doses of Covishield.
(With inputs from state bureaus)
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