The exercise to conduct a dry run of the distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine over a two-day period in two selected Punjab districts began on Monday, health officials said.
The districts of Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshahr) have been selected for the dry run, aimed at testing the laid out mechanisms for the vaccination roll-out in the health system, Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said.
He said it will provide insights on any gaps or bottlenecks in vaccine distribution and its administration to the population so that those could be addressed before the commencement of the COVID-19 immunisation drive.
The minister said immunisation partners United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) would support the dry run at the State level.
The dry run has been planned by the Union Ministry of Health and Family welfare in Punjab and three other States, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, and Gujarat, he said. In Ludhiana, the drill for COVID-19 vaccination started in full swing.
Seven centres have been set up in the district, two of which are meant for the city and the remaining five for Jagraon, Rajkot, Machiwara, Payal and Khanna, which fall in the district.
While the centres setup in Ludhiana for the dry run are housed in Dayanand Medical College and Hospital and the Civil Hospital, the centres at other places are at the respective government hospitals.
All beneficiaries are to be compulsorily pre-registered on the CoWIN portal, which was formed by the central government for monitoring the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, and photo IDs will be required for the same.
Health officials in Ludhiana and Nawanshahr said at each centre 25 people registered online will be selected for the dry run.
They will be sent an SMS each on their respective mobile phones, and these SMSs would be treated as identity proofs for entry into their allotted centres on Tuesday.
Each centre is equipped with a team of five doctors. Police personnel will also be deployed at each centre, said Dr. Bagga. He said people in large numbers are getting themselves registered online.
In Nawanshahr, during the dry run exercise, stock was taken of the requisite infrastructure and uploading of data like the names of centres where the vaccination will be undertaken, assigning of duties to the medical staff and information about the persons who will administer the vaccine along with their supervisors.
District Immunisation Officer, Nawanshahr, Dr. Davinder Dhanda said the necessary infrastructure at each centre includes a waiting area, an injection room, and an observation room where the person undergoing ''dummy vaccination'' on Tuesday during the dry run would be kept for half an hour.
As per Civil Surgeon, Nawanshahr, Dr. Rajinder Prasad Bhatia, a special training workshop of personnel involved in the dry run exercise was held here on Sunday under the supervision of Dr. Balwinder Kaur, State Immunization Officer.
Surveillance Medical Officer, WHO, Dr. Vikram Gupta, Surveillance Medical Officer, Jalandhar, Dr. Gagan Sharma, Project Officer UNDP, Hoshiarpur Dr. Meet had given detailed instructions about the dry run exercise at the workshop.
He said the objective of the dry run of the COVID-19 vaccine was to introduce the prescribed methods for vaccination in the health system.
“The exercise will provide information about any internal deficiencies or obstacles before the commencement of COVID-19 vaccination campaign so that these problems could be addressed in time. The main objective of this trial is to evaluate the functional feasibility of CoWIN portal,” he said.
The dry-run exercise will be conducted at five locations in Nawanshahr district — District Hospital, Nawanshahr, IVY Hospital, Nawanshahr, Community Health Centre Mukandpur, Primary Health Centre, Jadla and Sub-Centre Usmanpur.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Sidhu said the vaccine is planned to be rolled out in a phased manner and the priority groups comprise healthcare workers, frontline workers, the elderly and people with co-morbidities.
He said details of the 1.5 lakh healthcare workers from private and public facilities have already been uploaded on the CoWIN portal.