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India’s Two-Day Coronavirus Vaccine Dry Run Begins

India’s Two-Day Coronavirus Vaccine Dry Run Begins

Representative photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic.

New Delhi: India is holding a two-day dry run from Monday in four states for its proposed ambitious vaccination drive, likely to be kicked off in January 2021.

To assess readiness of the mechanism laid out for the COVID-19 inoculation drive, a dry run has been planned by the Centre on December 28 and 29 in four states – Punjab, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

The exercise will include necessary data entry into Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring vaccine delivery, testing receipt and allocation, deployment of team members, mock drill of session sites with test beneficiaries, a well as reporting and an evening meeting, the Union health ministry has said.

It will also include testing of cold storage and transportation arrangements for COVID-19 vaccine and management of crowds at session sites with proper physical distancing, the ministry said.

Each state will hold the dry run in two districts and preferably in five different session-type settings – a district hospital, community health centre (CHC) or primary health care centre (PHC), urban site, private health facility and rural outreach.

Also read: India to Play Vital Role in Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines: Pharma Industry

“This exercise will enable end-to-end mobilisation and testing of COVID-19 vaccination process (except the vaccine) and check the usage of Co-WIN in field environment, linkages between planning, implementation and reporting mechanisms, identify challenges and guide the way forward prior to actual implementation including improvements that may be required in the envisaged process,” the health ministry said.

This will also provide a hands-on experience to programme managers at various levels.

In Andhra Pradesh, the state government has chosen Krishna district for the dry run, where it will be carried out in five locations, according to health commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar.

“The dry run is aimed at testing the planned operations and the laid out mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccination in the state. It will provide insights into any gaps or bottlenecks so that those could be addressed before the commencement of the actual drive,” Bhaskar told PTI said on the eve of the programme.

An important focus of the dry run will be on management of any possible adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) as well as on adherence and management of infection control practices at the session site to prevent disease transmission.

The mock drill will include concurrent monitoring and review at block and district levels, and preparation of feedback to be shared with the state and the Centre. A detailed checklist has been prepared by the Union health ministry and shared with the four states to guide them in the dry run.

“The Central government is gearing up for the roll out of COVID-19 vaccine across the country. As the vaccine administrators will play an important role in the immunisation process, training of trainers and those who shall administer the vaccine has been taken up across various states,” the health ministry said.

As many as 2,360 participants were trained during a national-level training, which comprised state immunisation officers, cold chain officers, information, education and communication officials and development partners.

Also read: Explainer: When and How Will COVID-19 Vaccines Become Available?

As of today, state-level training has been completed at all states and union territories, with the participation of more than 7,000 district level trainees, except Lakshadweep which will conduct it on December 29. Cascading down, 681 districts have completed the training of medical officers on operational guidelines, the ministry said.

The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of COVID-19 (NEGVAC) has recommended three prioritised population groups including healthcare workers (about one crore), frontline workers (about two crore) and prioritised age group (about 27 crore).

As vaccines are temperature-sensitive, the present cold chain system consisting of 85,634 equipment for storage of vaccine at about 28,947 cold chain points across the country will be used, the ministry stated.

The current cold chain is capable of storing additional quantity of COVID-19 vaccine required for the first three crore prioritised population.

(With PTI inputs)

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