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India to launch Covid-19 vaccination drive on January 16

The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccination drive in the country will begin on January 16, the Union ministry of health and family welfare announced on Saturday.
|| Shivanj Shukla

“After the detailed review, it was decided that in view of the forthcoming festivals including Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu etc., the COVID19 vaccination will start from 16th January 2021,” the health ministry said in a statement.

The announcement came even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the Covid-19 situation as well as the preparedness of states and Union Territories for the vaccination drive on Saturday.

Modi did a detailed and comprehensive review of various issues such as emergency use authorisation or accelerated approval that has been granted by the national regulator to two vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin).

“PM was also briefed about the preparedness status of the Centre in close collaboration with the State and UT Governments for the rollout of the vaccine in the near future. The vaccination exercise is underpinned by the principles of people’s participation (Jan Bhagidari); utilizing the experience of elections (booth strategy) and Universal Immunization Program (UIP); no compromise of existing healthcare services, especially national programs and primary health care; no compromise on scientific and regulatory norms, other SOPs; and an orderly and smooth implementation driven by technology,” said the health ministry statement.

The roll-out of Covid-19 vaccine will give priority to the healthcare workers and the frontline workers (who are estimated to be around 30 million), followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities (numbering around 270 million).

The Prime Minister was also apprised about the Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System, which is a unique digital platform to provide real-time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries of the Covid-19 vaccine.

This platform will assist the program managers across all levels through automated session allocation for pre-registered beneficiaries, their verification, and for generating a digital certificate upon successful completion of the vaccine schedule. At least 7.9 million beneficiaries have been already registered on the platform.

As the vaccinators and vaccine administrators comprise a crucial pillar of the vaccination exercise, their training process was detailed out. 2,360 participants were trained during national level “Training of Trainers”, which comprised state immunization officers, cold chain officers, and development partners etc.

At least 61,000 programme managers, 200,000 vaccinators and 370,000 other vaccination team members have been trained so far as part of training at States, districts and block levels.

Three phases of dry runs have already been conducted across the country, with the third dry run having been conducted on Friday across 615 districts covering 4,895 session sites in 33 States/UTs.

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