States gear up for 1st phase of vaccination, await Centre nod
A day after the national drug controller cleared two coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines, state governments on Monday were awaiting the Centre’s go-ahead for a massive immunisation campaign, which could begin in the second week of January. To begin with, about 300 million people (health care staff, frontline workers, people above 50, and those with co-morbidities) will be vaccinated in a phased manner. States are already sending the data on the beneficiaries to the Centre.
Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said the state administration was awaiting a communication from the Centre on the availability of the Covid vaccine and had conducted drills for administering it.
Dr Subhash Salunkhe, chairman, communicable diseases prevention control and technical committee, said the state had prepared a list of 758,000 Covid warriors, who will receive vaccination in the first phase. “A detailed district-wise list of health care providers have been provided to the Centre on its Co-WIN app,” he said, referring to the app that the Centre has introduced to facilitate the vaccine drive and to monitor the progress realtime.
Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the state vaccination task force, said the Centre was expected to procure the vaccine and distribute among states. “By when this process will start, we don’t know,” he said.
Health minister Raghu Sharma said the state was fully prepared to execute vaccination by developing centres even as ambulance service will be available at all those facilities in case of adverse reaction, if there is any. “We have had a dry run at 19 places, including Jaipur and even private hospitals,” he said.
Health officials in Assam said around 150,000 health care workers and frontline staff registered with the government would be administered the vaccine in the first phase. “We have not received any confirmation from the Centre on how many doses of the vaccine Assam would get,” said S Lakshmanan, director of the National Health Mission, Assam. He said states cannot directly purchase the shots.
Dr K Sudhakar, the state’s medical education minister, said all Corona warriors will be administered the vaccine in the first phase free of cost. “We will also use the existing infrastructure and the Centre will augment the additional infrastructure as required,” he said. The minister said the vaccine expected to be available in January itself. “We are awaiting directions from the Centre on next steps,” he said.
According to Punjab’s Covid nodal officer, Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, there is no exact information on when inoculation will begin. “The state has also not received any tentative plan either,” he said, adding the state has already submitted data of 160,000 frontline workers to the Centre.
Health minister TS Singhdeo said the state will receive vaccines from central government and the exact date has not been decided. “In the first phase, vaccines would be given to 254,000 registered health functionaries in the state,” he said.
Kuldeep Singh Martoliya, nodal officer for Covid-19 vaccination, said the hill state was expecting to receive vaccines from the Centre soon. “We have been assured that vaccines will be provided to us by early 2021. The Uttarakhand government has shared the data of over 94,000 health care workers with the Centre,” he said.
About 450,000 health workers will be administered vaccines at primary health centres, community health centres and district hospitals, said Dr Santosh Shukla, the nodal officer for vaccination. “Whenever we receive the vaccines, we will start the inoculation process within the next two days,” he said, adding that all dry runs have been successful and vaccination will be done by maintaining social distancing norms.
The Haryana health department will conduct a dry run across the state on January 7 to test preparedness for the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out. The department has already identified 19,000 vaccination sites, and about 5,145 vaccinators have been mapped for the process.
“The number of vaccines available and priority groups would depend on the central government. We will expeditiously roll out vaccination, once the vaccine becomes available,” said Rajeev Arora, additional chief secretary (ACS), health.
Data of 190,000 health care workers have been uploaded on CoWIN portal, he said.
Around 439,000 health care workers will be vaccinated in Bihar and 14,724 vaccinators have been identified so far, said health minister Mangal Pandey. He said the state was in the process of giving last-minute training to its vaccinators and immunisation officers. “The picture will be clear later this week,” said a Bihar government official, requesting anonymity.
Close to 250,000 health workers will be vaccinated in the first phase. State health official said every district would have a vaccine distribution centre, from where vaccines would be sent in refrigerated vans to block community health centres.
Health secretary J Radhakrishnan said 600,000 health workers will get vaccine once the Centre informs the state about when the drive would start. “The Centre has instructed to hold dry runs in the states, which is being done in five districts,” he said. Over 2,000 personnel and 100 others are participating in the dry run, he said. The secretary also said over 5,000 refrigerated facilities have been created for storing the vaccine.
An official of the health department, who refused to be quoted, said the state could get 170,000 vaccine vials in the first phase and focus was shifted to cold-chain management, a crucial part of storage and distribution.
Health minister Eatala Rajender said the Centre might supply 500,000 doses initially. An official familiar with the development said the registration process for vaccination was expected to start in the second week of January. The government is setting up 10,000 vaccination centres across the state.
Amit Mohan Prasad, additional chief secretary of health and family welfare, said 900,000 health care workers have been enrolled in the first phase of the Covid vaccination drive. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday said the vaccine was likely to be available in the state around Makar Sankranti (January 14). Officials said district magistrates have been asked to constitute district task forces, tehsil task forces and block task forces to review the drive.
Health minister KK Shailaja said the state was fully geared up to carry out the massive drive. “Our strategy was to delay the peak (of infections) and restrict casualties…we succeeded in both. Since the state’s density of population is quite high and (because of) prevalence of high incidences of lifestyle disease, we need to get more vaccines in the first stage itself. We have informed the Union health ministry about this,” said Shailaja.
(with inputs from HT bureaus)