India’s COVID vaccination drive is scheduled to start on January 16 with priority given to an estimated three crore healthcare workers and the frontline workers, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.
It added that this will be followed by voluntary vaccination of those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities, numbering around 27 crore.
The announcement followed a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the status of the pandemic in the country along with the preparedness of the State/UTs for COVID vaccination.
Emergency Use Authorisation or Accelerated Approval has been granted by the National Regulator for two vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — which have established safety and immunogenicity, the release said.
According to the Ministry, the Prime Minister was briefed about the preparedness of the Centre in close collaboration with the State and UT governments for roll out of the vaccine .
“The vaccination exercise will use the principles of people’s participation (Jan Bhagidari), experience of elections (booth strategy) and Universal Immunization Program (UIP). There will be no compromise of existing healthcare services, especially national programmes and primary health care. We aim for it to be an orderly and smooth implementation driven by technology,” noted the release.
The Prime Minister was also apprised about the Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System, noted the release.
“The digital platform will provide real time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries of the COVID-19 vaccine,” said the Ministry.
It added that this platform will assist the program managers across all levels through automated session allocation for pre-registered beneficiaries, their verification and for generating a digital certificate upon successful completion of the vaccine schedule. More than 79 lakh beneficiaries have been already registered on the platform.
Training of personnel
As the vaccinators and vaccine administrators comprise a crucial pillar of the vaccination exercise, their training process was detailed at the meeting.
The Health Ministry said 2,360 participants were trained during national level Training of Trainers which comprised State immunisation officers, cold chain officers, IEC officials, development partners etc.
Also more than 61,000 programme managers, two lakh vaccinators and 3.7 lakh other vaccination team members have been trained so far as part of trainings at States, districts and block levels as per Ministry data.
The Prime Minister was also apprised on the three phases of dry runs that have been conducted across the country.
“The third dry run was conducted on Friday across 615 districts covering 4,895 session sites in 33 States/UTs. After the detailed review, it was decided that in view of the forthcoming festivals including Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu etc., the COVID-19 vaccination will start following the festivals,” the Ministry noted.