As the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine progresses, the central government asked all states and union territories to set up panels to coordinate and oversee COVID-19 vaccination drives. The COVID-19 vaccine introduction will span over a year, reported NDTV. The vaccine will be introduced to multiple groups, starting with healthcare workers.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter to states and union territories, suggested setting up of a state steering committee (SSC) chaired by the chief secretary, a state task force (STF) led by additional Chief Secretary or principal secretary (health), and a district task force (DTF) to be headed by the district magistrate.
The letter outlines the terms of reference for the committees. The SSC is expected to ensure active involvement of all departments concerned and come up with innovative strategies for improving community engagement. The committee is also expected to establish a reward/recognition mechanism for the district/urban ward/block that performs the best, reported The Times of India.
The state task force (STF) has been tasked with providing guidance, funding and operational guidelines and fixing timelines for districts to plan and implement the vaccine introduction.
The district task force (DTF) has to review preparatory activities such as cold chain preparedness, operational planning, strategies for state-specific challenges in terms of geographical terrain and hard-to-reach areas, among others. The panel also needs to monitor the progress of database of beneficiaries of the vaccine.
The letter also directed the need to start early tracking of social media and other platforms for possible misinformation and rumours around COVID-19 vaccine that could impact the community acceptance for the vaccine, reported NDTV.
"“The COVID-19 vaccine introduction will span over a year with multiple groups being included sequentially starting from HCWs. Therefore, it is important to create strong advisory and coordination mechanism at state and district level to guide the process of COVID-19 vaccine introduction while ensuring minimal disruption of other routine health care services including immunisation.”" - Excerpt from the letter reported by NDTV
The terms of references state that the SSC should meet at least once a month, STF should meet once a fortnight and the DTF must meet once a week.
(With inputs from NDTV and The Times of India)
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