Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday chaired a high-level meeting to review preparedness at various session sites in the country for coronavirus vaccination trial run on January 2. The senior officials of the health ministry apprised the minister on various improvements that have been made to make the pan India dry run glitch free, such as number of telephone operators has been increased to answer every possible query from the teams on the ground conducting the dry run.
Block-level task forces have been constituted for physical inspection of the sites and all workers have been oriented for the purpose with the dissemination of FAQs on the process, among other issues, the ministry said in a statement. Vardhan asked officials concerned to ensure that the vaccination sites and official in-charge abide by the detailed checklist and SOP for vaccination that has been prepared by the health ministry and shared with the states/UTs to guide them in the dry run.
He also pressed the need for perfect calibration between administrative and medical officers to make the event a primer that would later enable mass implementation of the vaccination drive, the statement stated. Re-emphasising the importance of such an event that involves mass participation similar to elections, the health minister said, Let us attempt to implement it as a real exercise with attention to the minute detail. Proper co-ordination will go a long way in building mutual understanding so that the upcoming vaccination drive may proceed without any glitch.
Drawing from the pulse polio drive of 1994 in Delhi, Vardhan said as the exercise of vaccination is so integrally based on interaction and involvement of people, the relevant stakeholders, NGOs, civil society organisations (CSOs) and others need to be mobilised, the statement said. He also stressed the need for adequate security arrangements at session sites, cold chain points and during vaccine transportation.
Vardhan also spoke with officials, including Delhi Secretary (Health) Amit Singla, district magistrates and district immunization officers of Shahdara, central and south-west districts of Delhi where the three session sites are located. These three sites are Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Shahdara; Urban Primary Health Centre, Daryaganj; and Venkateshwar Hospital, Dwarka. The officers apprised the minister of the preparations done for the dry run, including setting up of session site, process of updation and collation of data, uploading it on CoWIN portal, training of vaccinators, preparedness for any adverse event following immunization (AEFI), cold chain management, security of session sites, vaccine storage sites, among others.
Vardhan also updated the officers on the status of the two leading vaccine candidates whose data are being closely monitored by Subject Expert Committee of the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).