PM Modi to Meet CMs Today as Preps in Full Swing for Vaccine Roll-out; SII May Begin Covishield Transport

·7-min read

A day before chief ministers' interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several states on Sunday said they have made all necessary preparations for the first phase of nationwide roll-out of Covid-19 vaccine from January 16. This includes identification of vaccination sites and registration of healthcare and other frontline workers.

PM Modi will speak to chief ministers of all states through video conferencing to discuss the Covid-19 situation and the vaccination roll-out. This will be Modi's first interaction with chief ministers following the recent approval of two coronavirus vaccines for restricted emergency use by India's drug regulator.

The transportation of Covishield vaccine from the Serum Institute of India's facility in Maharashtra's Pune is likely to start from the evening of January 11 or on January 12, news agency PTI quoted sources involved in planning the logistics. The vaccine-laden trucks will move out from Manjari location of the SII with elaborate police security.

The Central government on Saturday said India will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16, with priority to be given to nearly three crore health care and frontline workers. "With all likelihood, there are possibilities that the transportation of the Covishield vaccine will start from Monday. Tentatively, there are plans to start the movement of the vaccine on Monday, but if that does not happen by some reasons, it will definitely start from Tuesday morning," said the sources involved in the planning for security and logistics for transportation of the vaccine.

Covishield is co-developed by the University of Oxford and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca in collaboration with the SII. The Maharashtra government has already decided to provide police security to the trucks carrying the vaccine up to airports and to borders of the state.

"A cold chain logistics service provider - Kool-Ex Cold Chain Ltd is the lead vendor for the movement of the vaccine from the SII factory to 48 primary government locations (depots) in the first leg," company's co-founder Rahul Agarwal had said. He said about 300 GPS-fitted trucks will be used and while 500 trucks will be roped in if needed.

On Saturday, Pune police commissioner Amitabh Gupta held a meeting with representatives of the Kool-ex to streamline the convoy system for the trucks carrying the vaccine. "We had a meeting with them. We told them that since trucks would start their journey from Pune, a security cover would be given for the initial period of 10 to 15 days," he had said.

A SII source had said that certain processes are being finalised about transportation of the vaccine.

States Prepping Up

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her government is making arrangements to provide free COVID vaccines to all the people of the state.

In an open letter to the frontline workers, Banerjee said the COVID warriors, including police, home guards, civil defence volunteers, correctional home and disaster management employees, will be administered the vaccine on a priority basis. "I am happy to inform that our government is making arrangements for reaching the vaccine to all people of the state free of any charge," the chief minister said.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the city government has finalised 89 sites to roll out the COVID-19 vaccination drive. "The Centre has finalised around 5,000 sites across the country. As per the directions of the central government, we have finalized 89 hospitals as vaccination sites. The first phase of vaccination will start from January 16," he said.

Jain said 40 government hospitals and 49 private ones will have a vaccination site each. "The first batch of vaccines will arrive by Tuesday or Wednesday. In the first phase, health care workers will be vaccinated. Thereafter, frontline workers and those aged above 50 will be given the doses," Jain told reporters.

Teachers will be included as frontline workers, he said. Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma said around 4.5 lakh health workers will be vaccinated in the state in the first phase.

Sharma said data of 4,36,146 government and private sector health workers had been uploaded on COVIN (COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network) software by 1 PM on Saturday. He said the first phase of vaccination will be conducted at 282 session sites from January 16 onwards. Of them, two sites including Jaipur and Ajmer will be interactive.

Rajasthan is all prepared for the vaccination programme… 3,689 medical institutions in the government sector and 2,969 medical institutions in the private sector have been identified for the vaccination programme in the first phase and 5,626 vaccination parties have been trained, he said. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that nearly 11 lakh people engaged in COVID-19 duties, including health care and frontline personnel, will be vaccinated for coronavirus on priority in the state.

About 16,000 personnel have been trained for administering the shots. He said the state had created a database of 1.2 crore people under four priority groups who will be administered the vaccine as per the Centre's guidelines.

Rupani said six regional depots as well as other infrastructure, including cold chains, for the storage and supply of vaccine doses have been established. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said his government will attempt to cover each and every person in the state.

"The vaccination drive will start from January 16 and we aim to cover each and every person under it. It will also be ensured that all guidelines of the Union government are followed during vaccination," Adityanath said while inaugurating a Mukhyamantri Arogya Mela at Sankisa in Farrukhabad. The Goa government has identified eight hospitals for the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination in the coastal state where around 18,000 health care workers will receive the doses, an official said.

As many as 100 vaccinations would be done at each of these eight facilities in a day, which amounts to 800 inoculations per day, state immunisation officer Dr Rajendra Borkar told PTI. "The state government has identified five government- run hospitals and three private facilities where vaccine would be administered to health care workers," he said.

Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar said he would be the first person in the state to be administered the vaccine during phase-I planned for health workers, if the central government allowed public representatives also to be covered. "The first batch to take the Covaxin will be the healthcare workers, but if the Government of India allows us to take, I will be the first to get it as a health Minister," Sudhakar told reporters during the inspection of the state vaccine store in his state.

Around 3.6 lakh health workers will be inoculated in the first phase in Andhra Pradesh, a senior health official said. The state machinery has successfully completed three dry runs of the vaccination programme so far and everything required for the actual drive has been put in place for a smooth run, Health Commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar said.

In all, 1,940 sites will be used for the vaccination programme, of which 1,659 have cold chain points within premises. For the rest of the sites, the vaccine will be brought from the nearest cold chain point, Bhaskar said in a release. He said 100 health workers would be vaccinated at each session site per day. Each site would be managed by a digital assistant, an ANM, an Anganwadi worker and one Asha worker. The Health Ministry held a video conference with officials from states and Union Territories on Sunday to discuss feedback on the Co-WIN software.

The Centre has said that Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring COVID-19 vaccine delivery, shall form the foundation for the anti-coronavirus inoculation drive. The meeting was chaired by Ram Sewak Sharma, the chairman of Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to combat COVID-19 and member of National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of COVID-19.

Underscoring the importance of capturing the vaccination data in real time, Sharma said, "This is non-negotiable." He also highlighted that caution needs to be exercised to ensure there was "no proxy", while reiterating that the beneficiaries of the vaccination drive need to be uniquely and undeniably identified. About the use of the Aadhaar platform, Sharma advised the states to urge the beneficiaries to seed their current mobile number with Aadhaar for registration and consequent communication through SMS.

After vaccinating healthcare and frontline workers, priority will be given to those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities, together numbering around 27 crore, a government statement said.

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(With inputs from PTI)