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Tamil Nadu receives 5,36,500 doses of Covishield vaccine

Consignment arrives ahead of vaccination drive scheduled to be held at 307 places across the State on January 16

January 13, 2021 12:59 am | Updated 12:59 am IST - Chennai

Prep work: Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan inspecting the vaccine consignment on Tuesday.

Prep work: Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan inspecting the vaccine consignment on Tuesday.

Tamil Nadu received its first consignment of a COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday. As many as 5,36,500 doses of Covishield arrived in Chennai from Pune. They are being dispatched to the districts ahead of a vaccination drive scheduled to be held at 307 places across the State on January 16.

Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said the State had been allotted 5,56,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 5,36,500 doses of Covishield and 20,000 doses of Covaxin.

Doses of Covishield, supplied by the Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune, arrived at the Chennai airport around 10.30 a.m., and were taken to the State vaccine store on the premises of the Directorate of Medical and Rural Health Services (DMS).

A GoAir flight carrying 59 boxes containing the vaccine left the Pune airport at 8.45 a.m. and landed in Chennai at 10.25 a.m. There were 1,200 vials in each box. The Airports Authority of India Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company Limited has been assigned the role of monitoring the shipments from Pune to various cities, including Chennai. Officials of the Airports Authority of India said the shipment that arrived in Chennai weighed around 1.8 tonnes, and shortly after arrival, it was shifted to vehicles arranged by the State government.

A Joint Director of the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine will oversee the transportation of the vaccines from the airport. Each district has designated cold chain officers.

From the State vaccine store, 5,12,200 doses were distributed to 10 regional vaccine stores (RVS), including those at Chennai, Cuddalore, Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Madurai, Sivaganga, Tirunelveli, Vellore, Salem and Coimbatore, leaving a buffer stock of 24,300 doses at the State vaccine store.

There are a total of 2,704 cold chain points. From the RVS, the vaccines would be dispatched to various districts.

According to vaccine flow details released by the Health Department, the Chennai RVS was allotted a major chunk of the vaccines.

Lion’s share

With 359 cold chain points, the Chennai RVS would get 1,18,000 doses. These would be distributed to the Greater Chennai Corporation (63,700 doses), Poonamallee (5,800), Tiruvallur (13,800), Chengalpattu (23,800) and Kancheepuram (10,900). The Coimbatore RVS was allotted 73,200 doses, meant for distribution to Coimbatore (40,600 doses), Erode (13,800), Tiruppur (13,500) and the Nilgiris (5,300).

A total of 25,500 doses were dispatched to the Cuddalore RVS for distribution to Cuddalore, Villupuram and Kallakurichi. The Tiruchi RVS would get 40,200 doses for distribution to Tiruchi, Ariyalur, Perambalur, Aranthangi, Pudukottai and Karur. A total of 28,600 doses were allotted to the Thanjavur RVS. The Madurai RVS would be getting 54,100 doses, Sivaganga 19,000, Tirunelveli 51,700, Vellore 42,100 and Salem 59,800.

Mr. Radhakrishnan said the doses were dispatched in accordance with the number of healthcare workers in the respective districts. Already, 28 lakh of the 33 lakh allotted syringes had been distributed to the districts, he said.

The Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation (TNMSC) had readied facilities to transport the vaccines. There were insulated containers that could maintain the cold chain for 14 hours, he added.

P. Umanath, Managing Director, TNMSC, said these vaccines should be maintained at a temperature of two to eight degrees centigrade, similar to the storage conditions of regular vaccines under the universal immunisation programme. “Our entire vaccine infrastructure has facilities to maintain the vaccines at a temperature of two to eight degrees centigrade,” he said.

2,000 vaccine centres

The Health Secretary said 2,000 vaccine centres had been readied in the State. The vaccines would be administered in two doses. As per Central government guidelines, healthcare workers, followed by frontline workers, would be inoculated first. Officials of the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine said they were starting off with Covishield. Around 4.39 lakh healthcare professionals/workers have registered themselves to receive the vaccine in the first phase till date. “Vaccination is purely on a voluntary basis. After healthcare workers in the first phase, we will vaccinate frontline workers [like police, local administration and revenue officials], who can register themselves till January 25. This will be followed by persons above the age of 50, and then, those aged below 50 but with co-morbidities,” Mr. Radhakrishnan said. To a question on an internal circular of the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors’ Association regarding the safety of the vaccines, he said this was an internal circular, and everyone had the right to hold discussions on the subject.

With schools all set to reopen for students of Classes 10 and 12, the School Education Department has sought two crore multi-vitamin tablets and as many zinc tablets from the TNMSC. Work to dispatch the medicines from TNMSC warehouses has begun, and they would reach the department officials in the districts in a few days, Mr. Umanath said.

Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar on Tuesday said necessary steps had been taken to administer the COVID-19 vaccines to identified personnel across the State on January 16.

Addressing the media at Viralimalai, he said the vaccines would be administered only to pre-registered personnel. Noting that comprehensive measures had been taken to administer the vaccines as per the Central government’s guidelines, Mr. Vijayabaskar said Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami would inaugurate the vaccination process.

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