As India aims to launch the largest ever mass immunization campaign, aiming to inoculate about 300 million people by August 2021, it will face its single biggest public health challenge.
Unlike regular immunization drives that see hundreds of people being vaccinated in one day, the government is planning to provide anti-corona shots to only 100 per day at each site, according to the draft standard operating procedure provided by the Health Ministry.
The government has said that it will deploy its massive election machinery to provide 30 crore Indians with 60 crore doses of Covid vaccines, including healthcare and frontline staff, priority groups over the age of 50, and those under 50 with comorbidities.
The Centre’s comprehensive strategy to administer the coronavirus vaccine involves the country’s air and road transport network and locations where the vaccine will be given to eligible individuals in the first process.
On Friday, under the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) will meet to consider the application for emergency use authorization by three companies: Pfizer, Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech.
Centre Plans’ Distribute Covid-19 Vaccine
- Government officials with knowledge of the vaccination plan have said that special cargo planes with storage space for cold boxes and refrigerated vans will begin transporting vials of the vaccine to different parts of the country from Pune, where SII’s Covid-19 vaccine production facilities are located.
- State administrations will then distribute the vaccine vials to district authorities for distribution across India to the hundreds of thousands of inoculation centers to be developed over several weeks.
- Only government hospitals, public health centers, or large private hospitals will be given the initial batches of the vaccine. These locations would be vaccinated by the first two priority health care groups and other frontline staff, such as police officers.
- Polling booths, wedding halls, community centers, and mobile vans will be used as inoculation centers where the vaccine will be distributed to the remaining high-risk population of elderly adults and comorbidity sufferers.
- The specific information of how many vials (each vial of the vaccine will contain several doses) are to be shipped to each destination and then will be sent to SII by the national expert group on the Covid-19 vaccine after DGCI has given its nod.
- Officials have said that the vaccines will be transported, at least for now, by air and road, but not by rail. As of now, there are no proposals to use Indian Railways’ refrigerated vehicles. Vaccines would be provided by road for destinations close to Pune. Cargo flights will carry the pallets on longer routes,” said the first official cited above.
- It will be the responsibility of SII to supply the vaccines at the specified receiver points, but the government will mainly control the logistics and cold chains. It is the responsibility of SII to deliver it securely at specific locations and to hand it over to the state or central officials.’
- The responsibility for further distribution rests solely with the government once the handover is completed,” said a second official.
- The government has also set up fixed recipient points or places in capital cities and influential urban centers to hand over vaccine shipments to states.
- The vaccines will be kept in four government medical stores in Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata, as well as in state and district vaccine shops.
- In Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Community Health Centres, refrigerated vans will carry these vaccines to the last point in the cold chain.
- Officials said that the distribution of vaccines to divisions and districts from state and regional stores will be carried out in cold boxes using insulated vaccine vans. They added that vaccine carriers with ice packs are used to transport vaccines from PHCs to village outreach sessions.