The government, in an ambitious target, aims to inoculate at least 30 crore people against Covid-19 by the first half of 2021. The Centre has directed states to build up a data base of vaccinators and update their details on the coVIN or the Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network to support the vaccination drive. A letter written by Vandana Gurnani, Additional Secretary and Mission Director of the National Health Mission, asked for states to submit the database of MBBS doctors, BDA doctors, nurses — BSc nursing, auxiliary midwives, pharmacists, MBBS interns and BDS interns who would be able to vaccinate either using the intra muscular route, intra dermal or sub cutaneous routes.
The Centre in the letter, accessed by News18, has also said that adequate training is to be provided to these people. The government will also rope in retired professionals in the above categories to vaccinate the country against the deadly coronavirus.
Training will be provided under the training module for management of Covid-19 named ‘Integrated Govt. Online training’ (iGOT) portal on Ministry of HRD’s DIKSHA platform. This was set up for capacity building of frontline workers to handle the pandemic efficiently.
Courses on iGOT have been launched for doctors, nurses, paramedics, hygiene workers, technicians, auxiliary nursing midwives (ANMs), state government officers, civil defence officers, various police organisations, National Cadet Corps (NCC), NehruYuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), National Service Scheme, Indian Red Cross Society, Bharat Scouts and Guides and other volunteers at the stage.
This was launched to take care of the training needs of the frontline workers, in April this year.
Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, Public policy and health systems expert who is the co-author of ‘Till We Win: India’s Fight against COVID-19 pandemic’, says “There are nearly 200,000 Auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) in government system who conduct routine immunization; every trained doctor and nurse can conduct vaccination. There are around 2.5 million doctors, nurses and ANMs in India and this number is enough to conduct mass vaccination of adult population. The Covid-19 vaccination is going to be happen in phased manner and thus, the workforce available in government sector could be enough to conduct Covid-19 vaccination. However, it will be important that appropriate private sector engagement to get additional trained vaccinator is planned to ensure time completion of these activities.”
He says it India has undertaken similar large exercises in the past as well. “India has done similar large-scale campaigns for measles in 2010-12 and Measles and Rubella in 2017-18. Those campaigns also targeted for nearly 25 crore children aged less than 15 years. “ he says.
The key difference is that those vaccination campaigns were for children and this one would have focus on adult population, however, basic principles remains the same. In the end, it needs enough planning, training of staff, and detailed logistic arrangement.