Data on frontline healthcare workers, who would get anti-coronavirus vaccine on a priority basis, have been collected from government and private health facilities and being fed into Co-WIN, a digital platform for real-time monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine delivery, the Centre said on Tuesday. The process is being monitored and verified at multiple levels, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said at a press briefing.
Listing the recommendations by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), he said the committee has stressed that every single Indian who needs to be vaccinated will get the shots. It has recommended that vaccine need to be provided on priority to government and private sector healthcare workers, which is around one crore.
NEGVAC has asserted that frontline workers should be given priority for COVID-19 immunisation, which include personnel from state and central police, armed forces, home guard and civil defence organisation such as disaster management volunteers and municipal workers, excluding HCWs, whose population is estimated to be around two crore. Another recommendation is that age-stratified priority groups should be there in which people above 50 years and those less than 50 but with associated morbidities should be vaccinated, Bhushan said, adding the estimated population of such people is 27 crore.
"So the two most significant points to be noted are that the government is yet to take a decision on these recommendations. Secondly, these are not sequential. "When immunisation commences, it can be simultaneous also depending on the availability of the vaccine. It is possible that in the first month, there is limited availability of the vaccine but it will increase in subsequent months," the health secretary said.
Under the NEGVAC a State Steering Committee (SSC), chaired by chief secretary, which will carry out coordination work and the State Task Force (STF), chaired by principal secretary, will take care of logistics and human resource management, Bhushan said. State control rooms (STR) are being set up which will work round the clock once vaccination begins, he said.
Bhushan also said that out of the 2.39 vaccinators or auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) across the country who provide vaccination under the existing Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), only 1.54 lakh ANMs will be used for COVID-19 inoculation drive. "Additional vaccinators are being arranged in collaboration with states and Union Territories," the health secretary said, adding the aim is to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccination drive has "minimal impact on routine health services, including immunization," he said.
At the district level, there are District Task Force (DTF), chaired by district collectors. Urban Task Force (UTF) would be chaired by municipal commissioners in corporations like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and there would be a district control room as well which will work round the clock. A Block Task Force (BTF), chaired by sub-divisional magistrate or tehsildar or Block Development Officers BDO has also been constituted which will work at the block level. This apart, there has to be a communication strategy on vaccine safety and effectiveness, Bhushan said.
"A transparent, effective and sustained communication for anti-coronavirus vaccination is crucial for educating people and explaining the implementation plan to them. "It will also prepare them to accept some adverse effects, which happens with all vaccines, as well as address doubts and fight challenges such as disinformation campaigns, rumours and anti-vaccine lobby, the health secretary said.