Delhi starts gathering details of healthcare workers for Covid vaccine drive
The Delhi government has begun collecting data of health care workers in the national capital in order to prepare detailed electronic records of those who will get vaccinated for the Sars-Cov-2 in the first phase.
On the database will be 13 categories of health care workers, including MBBS doctors, AYUSH practitioners, nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists and ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) who are part of the frontline workforce against Covid-19.
The database is being created by the directorate of health and family welfare under the Delhi government following a central government directive. Delhi is among the first states to start shortlisting candidates.
“We are working on collecting information of health care workers across the city, working in private as well as government hospitals, dispensaries, path labs and clinics. Once the database is ready, we will know exactly who will receive the vaccine once it becomes available. This will also ensure that there is no pilferage of the vaccines,” said a senior official from the Delhi government, asking not to be named.
As per the Centre’s draft prioritisation plan developed by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19, 30 million frontline workers will receive the initial doses of whichever vaccine is approved in the first phase. This phase has been tentatively scheduled between January and June 2021.
The government has said that cold storage networks, vials, syringes and other logistical requirements needed for a vaccination drive are already available under the Universal Immunisation Programme.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address at the Grand Challenges meeting had said that India is working on a digitised system to deliver vaccine to all its citizens. No draft vaccination policy has been made public by the Union health ministry so far.
“So far, we do not know which vaccine candidate will be successful and get approvals. A strategy for vaccine administration can only be prepared just about three to four months before it become available. Most likely, existing facilities for vaccine delivery will be utilised,” the official quoted above said.
Currently, vaccines under the Universal Immunisation Programme are given at 640 “fixed points”, or delivery centres such as government dispensaries that dot the city.
The Delhi government is also looking at creating a new vaccine storage facility. “We have our existing system in place in each district which is used for the immunisation programme. We have deep freezers and other machines needed to safely store the vaccine. We might just need one more site where large quantities of the vaccines can be stored. The process to identify the site is going on,” said a second senior official from the Delhi government, asking not to be named.
The government currently has a vaccine storage facility in Civil Lines, which was used to store over 5 million doses of the MR vaccine for the national campaign that was to happen in 2019. A better vaccine storage facility will be created at the government’s Rajiv Gandhi Super-speciality hospital in Tahirpur. According to hospital personnel, an area is currently being earmarked for the new vaccine store.
“The government plans to give the vaccine to 30 million people in the first phase; this is not a small number. Most manufacturers have already started making the vaccines that are in the advanced stages [of trials], which means a vaccine is likely to be available as soon as it gets approval. In the meanwhile, it is important for the government to identify exactly who is at the highest risk so that they get the vaccine once it is available,” said Dr Puneet Mishra, professor of community medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He is in the team of doctors working on the trial of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin at the hospital.