The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday announced plans for the Center for Cold Chains to prepare for a large-scale vaccination campaign against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) across the country. It includes 29,000 cold chain points, 240 walk-in refrigerators, 70 walk-in freezers, 45,000 ice-lined refrigerators, 41,000 freezers and 300 solar refrigerators available for vaccine storage, Health Minister Rajesh Bhushan said Tuesday.
Bhushan said during a news conference that the center has issued guidelines to states for assessing electrical and non-electrical cold chain equipment and strengthening it. The guidelines for managing the cold chain at the final cold chain points and meeting locations have also been issued, he said. “All of these devices have already been shipped to the States. Some other equipment is being shipped, ”he said.
Training modules for people handling the vaccinations such as doctors, vaccination officers, alternate vaccination officers, cold chain leaders, supervisors, data managers and ASHA coordinators have started both physically and through digital platforms. In addition, the national and state training of trainers (ToTs) workshops have also been completed, he added.
Bhushan also spoke about side effects of the vaccine, especially in pregnant women and children. “Post-immunization adverse events are a critical issue. If we run a universal vaccination program that has been in place for decades, children and pregnant women will experience some adverse effects after vaccination, ”he said.
The Minister of Health advised the states and territories of the Union to be prepared for such situations, as these effects had already appeared on the first day of their vaccination campaign in the UK. He also said 23 ministries and departments in the center and across the states have been identified and assigned roles such as planning, implementation, social mobilization and awareness-raising for the introduction of the vaccine, among others.
The announcement comes a few days after the center announced that the vaccination campaign is only months away. Union Health Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey said that initially only 100 people a day would get the shot but eventually they would all be vaccinated. “We will begin shipping the necessary equipment for storing and handling the coronavirus vaccine to states. Currently only 100 people are getting the vaccine per day at one booth. At some point everyone will get the vaccine, ”he said.
The vaccine carriers, vaccine bottles and ice packs must be strictly protected from direct sunlight in accordance with the “Operating guidelines for Covid-19 vaccines”. “The Covid-19 vaccine label may not have Vaccine Vial Monitors (VVM) and an expiration date. This shouldn’t stop vaccines from using the vaccine. At the end of the session, the vaccine carrier with all ice packs and unopened vaccine bottles should be returned to the distributing cold chain point, ”the guidelines say.
Officials said 36 states and territories across the Union have completed state steering committee and state task force meetings, and 633 districts have completed district task force meetings.
According to guidelines recently issued to states, the Covid-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system – a digitized platform – is used to track the beneficiaries gained in real time for vaccination and vaccines against coronavirus.
The vaccine will initially be offered to all health workers and frontline workers, as well as those over the age of 50. In the case of the elderly, there may be subdivisions such as those between 50 and 60 years of age and those over 60 years of age, with priority given to the more vulnerable the availability of the vaccine. The vaccination of 300 million people is planned in the first phase of the action.
India currently has 9,906,165 confirmed coronavirus infections and 143,709 deaths.
(With agency entries)