India’s massive immunisation programme against the coronavirus will involve five-member vaccination teams inoculating 100 to 200 people in each session per day, internet-enabled sites, and using the latest electoral roll to identify priority population over the age of 50, PTI reported on Monday, citing the operational guidelines issued by the health ministry to states.

Experts said that vaccinating a billion people, including hundreds of millions of adults for the first time, against Covid-19 would be a daunting task in the first tranche. The 113-page guideline document explores how best to deploy the vaccine whenever it is authorised for use in the country, according to NDTV.

The health ministry in its document stated that a vaccine will be offered first to frontline healthcare workers and to persons above 50, followed by persons younger than 50 with associated co-morbidities based on evolving situation of the coronavirus pandemic. It added that a dose will be administered finally to the remaining population, based on the disease epidemiology and the availability of vaccines.

The government noted that India stands on the cusp of coronavirus vaccine administration, even as certain challenges need to be tackled well in time. Under phase one of the vaccination, it has planned to inoculate nearly 30 crore of the population.

“These may include the challenge of ensuring over 1.3 billion people in India receive factual and timely information and updates on vaccine roll-out progress and benefits, public’s anxiety and queries regarding government’s decision for prioritisation of vaccine administration, apprehension about the vaccines introduced after a short trial raising safety concerns, and fear of adverse events, misconception about vaccine efficacy, rumours and negative narrative in media/social media,” the document read.

India has recorded more than 99 lakh cases of the coronavirus the second highest in the world and 1,43,709 people have died of the infection. The Pune-based Serum Institute, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and pharmaceutical company Pfizer have applied for emergency use authorisation in India. The government has not signed a deal for a coronavirus vaccine yet so it is unclear when it will be available for use in the country. It is likely that the Centre may approve some coronavirus vaccines over the next few weeks. The final call on the efficacy of a vaccine will be taken by the Drugs Controller General of India.

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Here’s the Centre’s plan on vaccination:

  • Around 100-200 people will be vaccinated during each session per day. Reports, citing the health ministry guidelines, said that the session will continue for nine hours, from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • People will be monitored for 30 minutes after administering the shot for any adverse event.
  • A vaccination team will have five members  a main officer helped by four others. The main person will be a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or anyone legally qualified to give injection. The second officer will be for security, who will check user registration and guard the entry point at the vaccination session. The third officer will verify documents, while the fourth and fifth officers will be responsible for crowd management and communication.
  • The Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network or Co-WIN system, a digitised platform, will be used to track the enlisted beneficiaries and the vaccines on a real-time basis.
  • At the vaccination site, only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated in accordance with the prioritisation, and there will be no provisions for on the-spot registrations.
  • The latest electoral roll for Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly elections will be used to identify the priority population over the age of 50.
  • Twelve photo-identity documents, like Voter ID, Aadhar card, driving license, passport and pension document, will be required for beneficiary identification.
  • States have been asked to ensure that each district gets vaccines from only one manufacturer, so as to avoid “mixing” of different available options.
  • The Centre has directed states to take all measures to avoid exposing the vaccine carrier, vaccine vials or ice packs to direct sunlight. Moreover, vaccines and diluents should be kept inside the vaccine carrier with the lid closed until a beneficiary comes to the centre for immunisation.

Also read:

  1. A Covid-19 vaccine will be available in India anytime now. But will people take it?
  2. Covid-19: Does it make sense to vaccinate India’s entire population?