Centre holds review meet with states, UTs ahead of opening up COVID vaccination to people above 45

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New Delhi, Mar 31 (PTI) As India prepares to open up its COVID-19 vaccination drive to people above 45 from April 1, the Centre on Wednesday asked states and union territories to identify low vaccine-coverage pockets, particularly in districts reporting a surge in new infections, and take corrective action.

National Health Authority CEO and Empowered Group on COVID Vaccination chairperson Dr R S Sharma and Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting with health secretaries, mission directors of NHM and immunisation officers of all states and UTs during the day, a statement said.

The status and pace of the inoculation drive across the country were reviewed at the meeting held through video-conferencing, as were the preparations for April 2021, when vaccination would be extended to cover everybody above the age of 45, the ministry said.

'A key theme underlying the meet was the identification of low vaccine coverage pockets particularly in districts showing COVID-19 surge and for taking corrective actions there,' it said in the statement.

On vaccination coverage of healthcare workers (HCWs) and frontline workers (FLWs), the states and the UTs were advised to ensure that only eligible beneficiaries were registered and inoculated under the respective categories.

They were also advised to archive incorrect and duplicate entries on the Co-WIN platform, identify pockets of low vaccination coverage – health facility, professional association, blocks, districts – for taking corrective action, and ensure saturation of vaccination of these groups on priority.

States and UTs were asked to conduct regular reviews of capacity utilisation at private COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs).

They were also asked to undertake GIS analysis of CVCs to identify the need for more such facilities, and address apprehensions of private CVCs regarding vaccine supply and guidelines, the statement said.

The states and UTs were also advised to ensure that there was no sedimentation of vaccine stocks at any level of storage, and that their distribution was based on consumption to avoid overstocking or under-stocking at cold chain points and CVCs.

They were asked to conduct regular reviews of vaccine stocks and consumption to identify gap areas and address the same, the ministry said in its statement.

The Centre also advised the states and UTs to maintain vaccine wastage at less than one per cent (current National Wastage Percentage being six per cent).

They were asked to ensure timely utilisation of available stock to avoid expiry of vaccines and update the vaccine consumption data on Co-WIN and eVIN portals.

Dr Sharma assured that there was no problem in storage and logistics of the vaccines. He re-emphasized that there was no value in conserving vaccines for the second dose and that states must promptly supply vaccines to all government and private hospitals where there is a demand, the statement stated.

A countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with healthcare workers (HCWs) getting inoculated first, and vaccination of frontline workers (FLWs) started from February 2.

The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on March 1 to cover people above 60 and those in the age group of 45-59 but with specified co-morbid conditions. PTI PLB IJT