From identifying priority groups that will get COVID-19 vaccine first to arranging vaccination centres — the central government has started preparing blueprint to roll out coronavirus vaccine in the country, once it is available. The coronavirus vaccine will be distributed under a special COVID-19 inoculation programme, using the processes, technology and network of the existing Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP), official sources had said earlier.
The frontline workers will be the first one to get vaccinated in India, according to a senior official. “Health workers, both in public and private sector across rural and urban India are fighting the battle. Also, municipal workers and police people fighting everywhere should be priority,” said Dr Vinod Paul, member of Niti Aayog and the head of a panel advising the prime minister on the country’s efforts to produce and roll-out the inoculation.
The central government has already started the process of identifying around 30 crore priority beneficiaries. It has demarcated four categories of people for vaccination in the initial phase — 1) Around one crore healthcare professionals including doctors, MBBS students, nurses and ASHA workers; 2) Around two crore frontline workers including municipal corporation workers, 3) Personnel of the police and armed forces; about 26 crore people aged above 50; 4) A special group of those below 50 years of age with co-morbidities and requiring specialised care.
COVID-19 vaccination drive:
The health ministry’s existing digital platform eVIN for the UIP will be used for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution and delivery. An SMS will be sent to the recipients mentioning time, date and venue to get the shots. Each person in the immunisation list would be linked with their Aadhaar cards to avoid duplication and to track beneficiaries. However, in case a person does not have an aadhaar card, a government photo identity proof can be used, sources said.
Anganwadi centres, schools, panchayat buildings and other such setups will be used in addition to healthcare facilities as vaccination sites, according to news agency PTI. State governments would identify buildings which can be used as vaccination booths under the special COVID-19 immunisation programme.
The Centre is planning to procure COVID-19 vaccines directly from the drugmakers and distribute them among priority group. The states and union territories have been asked not to chart separate pathways of procurement, according to reports.
India has set aside about ₹50,000 crore at an estimated ₹500 per person to vaccinate the world’s second most populous nation, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.
The National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 has already mapped the existing cold chain presently being utilised under the government’s immunisation programme. Informing about the preparation of a cold chain for the storage of vaccines, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “It has also made the projection of additional cold chain that will be required. Presently, that group is now engaged in mapping the private sector facilities with minor modifications they could be converted to serve the need for supplementing for cold chain equipment.”