29,000 cold chain points, 41,000 deep freezers: How India is prepping for Covid-19 vaccination

December 23, 2020 Pharma

As the Indian government prepares for a mega Covid-19 vaccination drive in the coming months, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare today informed about the government’s plan for cold storage chains for the Covid-19 vaccine. The health ministry’s Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that 29000 cold chain points, 240 walk-in coolers, 70 walk-in freezers, 45000 ice-lined refrigerators, 41000 deep freezers and 300 solar refrigerators will be used for the Covid-19 vaccine storage. “All necessary resources of vaccination have been delivered to the states,” he added. To be sure, 36 states and Union Territories have concluded meetings of State Steering Committees and State Task Force. 633 districts have concluded meetings of District Task Force. Furthermore, training modules for medical officers, vaccinator officers, alternative vaccinator officers, cold chain handlers, supervisors, data managers, ASHA coordinators etc are also finalized. Physical training as well as training on virtual/online platforms have started. National and State Training of Trainers (ToTs) workshops completed.
Speaking at a press briefing, Bhushan added, “Adverse events following immunisation is a critical issue. When we undertake a universal immunisation program, which has been done for decades, then some adverse effects are seen in children and pregnant women after vaccination.”
Moreover, Bhushan also added, “We can’t deny chances of an adverse event when COVID-19 vaccination begins. The countries where immunisation has already begun, especially in the UK, adverse events took place on the very first day. So, it is essential that states and UTs prepare for this too.”
The development comes just days after the Centre unveiled its mega Covid-19 vaccination drive in the coming months claiming that “everyone will get the vaccine”. Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey on Sunday said that initially, only 100 people will be given the vaccine but eventually, everyone will receive the vaccine shot.
“We are going to start the process of sending necessary equipment for storage and handling of coronavirus vaccine to states. For now, only 100 people will be given the vaccine at a booth per day. Eventually, everyone will get the vaccine,” he said. Vaccinating 100-200 people in each session per day, monitoring them for 30 minutes after administering the shots for any adverse event and allowing only one beneficiary at a time are among the guidelines issued by the Centre for the COVID-19 inoculation drive.
According to the guidelines issued to states recently, the COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system–a digitalised platform–will be used to track enlisted beneficiaries for the vaccination and anti-coronavirus vaccines on a real-time basis. At the vaccination site, only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated in accordance with the prioritisation, and there will be no provision for on the-spot registrations. The states have been asked, as far as possible, to allocate the vaccine from one manufacturer to a district to avoid mixing of different COVID-19 vaccines in the field. As per the ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines’, all measures should be taken to avoid exposing the vaccine carrier, vaccine vials or ice packs to direct sunlight, the document stated. Vaccines and diluents should be kept inside the vaccine carrier with the lid closed until a beneficiary comes to the centre for vaccination.
“There may not be vaccine vial monitors (VVM) and Date of Expiry on the label of COVID-19 vaccine, this should not discourage vaccinators from using the vaccine. At the end of the session, the vaccine carrier with all ice packs and unopened vaccine vials should be sent back to the distributing cold chain point,” the guidelines said. States have been asked to implement an integrated 360-degree comprehensive advocacy communication and social mobilisation strategy to address the challenges surrounding vaccine rollout progress and benefits. The Centre has stated that the country stands on the cusp of COVID-19 vaccine administration, even as certain challenges need to be countered well in time.
“These may include the challenge of ensuring over 1.3 billion people in India receive factual and timely information and updates on vaccine rollout progress and benefits, public’s anxiety and queries regarding government’s decision for prioritisation of vaccine administration, apprehension about the vaccines introduced after a short trial raising safety concerns, and fear of adverse events, misconception about vaccine efficacy, rumours and negative narrative in media/social media space and laxity observed in public adherence to COVID appropriate behaviour,” the document stated.
The vaccination team will consist of five members, it said.
Each session should be planned for 100 beneficiaries per day. If the session site has adequate logistics and space available for waiting room and observation room along with arrangement for crowd management, one more vaccinator officer can be added to create a session for 200 beneficiaries, the guidelines stated. The COVID-19 vaccine will be offered first to healthcare workers, frontline workers and to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities based on the evolving pandemic situation, and finally to the remaining population based on the disease epidemiology and vaccine availability.
The priority group of above 50 years may be further subdivided into those above 60 years of age and those between 50 to 60 years of age for purposes of phasing of rollout based on the pandemic situation and vaccine availability. “The latest electoral roll for Lok Sabha and legislative assembly election will be used to identify the population aged 50 years or more,” the guidelines stated. Under phase one of the vaccination, it is planned to vaccinate nearly 30 crore population. Twelve photo-identity documents, including Voter ID, Aadhar card, driving license, passport and pension document, will be required for self-registration on the Co-WIN website, it added.

Source : livemint

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