As part of its commitment to pro-actively guide, review and monitor the COVID-19 vaccination drive in collaboration with States/UTs and all stakeholders, Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Tuesday held a review meeting through video conferencing with administrators from States and UTs on the progress of vaccination in States, modifications on the CoWIN software that will provide more flexibility to vaccine administrators,along with the effective implementation of SoPs for containment and management of COVID (particularly in areas underserved by health infrastructure).
These steps form the backbone of the Public Health envisaged to contain the pandemic. This meeting was chaired by Union Health Secretary Shri Rajesh Bhushan.
A detailed presentation on the progress of the countrywide vaccination drive across the country was presented, with focus on States/UTs that are lagging behind in providing coverage to the vulnerable population groups. The coverage of 1st and 2nd doses to the Healthcare Workers (HCWs) and Frontline Workers (FLWs) State-wise was reviewed. The scope to substantially speed up vaccination in this category was stressed.
Whereas States has been urged repeatedly to keep vaccine wastage below 1%, many States such as Jharkhand (37.3%), Chhattisgarh (30.2%), Tamil Nadu (15.5%), Jammu and Kashmir (10.8%), Madhya Pradesh (10.7%) are reporting much higher wastage than the national average (6.3%).
Union Health Secretary urged the States/UTs to make complete use of the available flexibilities on CoWIN to enhance pace of vaccination drive.
States/UTs were advised to plan for scaling up of vaccination coverage through available stocks and anticipated supplies till end of June,2021. The visibility of anticipated supplies of each tranche with expected date of delivery up till 15th June’21 for free supply by Govt. of India and till 30th June for directly procured vaccine doses by States has been provided by the Union Health Ministry to all States/UTs.
They were advised to constitute a 2/3-member dedicated team to regularly coordinate with vaccine manufacturers for timely supplies of vaccine through ‘Other than Govt. of India channel’ which also includes Pvt. Hospitals (the list of Pvt. Hospital along with doses contracted and supplied is being shared daily with States/UTs).
States/UTs were advised to prepare a district-wise, COVID Vaccination Centre (CVC)-wise plan for administration of COVID-19 vaccine till 15th June 2021 and use multiple media platforms for dissemination of such a plan. They were also advised to prepare and quickly implement decentralized communication strategy to address vaccine hesitancy in rural, tribal or hard-to-reach areas. Lactating women amongst Health Care Workers and Front Line Workers who have not received vaccination are to be prioritized for vaccination.
States/UTs were advised to make proactive efforts for engagement of private sector hospitals in COVID-19 vaccination and ensure monitoring for pace of vaccination and strict adherence to SOPs of COVID-19 vaccination shared by Government of India. It was reemphasised that both Govt. & Private CVCs are required to publish their calendar on CoWIN in advance and should desist from publishing single day calendars to ensure that there is no overcrowding at the CVCs and the process of booking appointments on CoWIN is also hassle-free.
Through a detailed and comprehensive presentation, Shri Vikas Sheel, Additional Secretary (Health), highlighted the new features and functionalities of CoWIN digital platform. Informing about the CVC management, he said that the minimum age can now be set to any value from 18 to 44 years. States were also informed that SPUTNIK has now been added to COWIN portal.
It was reiterated to the states that as per the latest advisory shared with them regarding workplace COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs), family members as defined by the employers will henceforth be covered for vaccination. Furthermore, there will be Special Sessions for ‘Persons Without Identity Cards’.
Another flexibility added on CoWIN is that there will be the provision for separate sessions for 18-44 and 45+ years. Sessions can now be rescheduled instead of cancellation while recording the reason for the same.
Private hospitals were advised not to allow offline vaccine registration; all registrations should be online. It was also clarified that Industrial organizations and Corporate entities that don’t have a hospital are required to tie up with a private hospital. Private Hospitals were also advised to publish adequately longer schedule of vaccination in terms of days.
Regarding publication of schedule, States have been advised to fix a time duration in a day for publishing the schedule (e.g. between 8 am and 9 am, 9 pm to 10 pm etc.) to make it easier for citizens to see availability and book appointments in a simple and easy manner.
A detailed presentation on SoPs to contain Covid-19 in in peri-urban, rural and tribal areas was made. States were asked to ensure primary care and redesign/reorient block level health infrastructure to manage the situation. Health Ministry emphasized on the need to ensure continuity of Non-COVID essential health care delivery services, Community Mobilization & Behaviour Change Communication and on the need to give continued focus on Vaccination in these areas.