The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday detailed the Centre’s plan for storing coronavirus vaccines as it prepares for a massive inoculation drive.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said at a press briefing that the storage arrangements would include 29,000 cold chain points, 240 walk-in coolers, 70 walk-in freezers, 45,000 ice-lined refrigerators, 41,000 deep freezers and 300 solar refrigerators.

The health secretary said that the equipment had already been delivered to states, according to PTI. He added that all states and Union territories have concluded vaccination-related meetings with State Steering Committees and State Task Force.

Bhushan added that a “multi-level governance mechanism” has been established to monitor the vaccination process. “Twenty-three ministries/ departments of [the] government and states have been identified and assigned roles for vaccine-roll out,” he said.

The health secretary added that states have to be prepared to handle the adverse events following immunisation. “While undertaking a universal immunisation program, some adverse effects are seen in children and pregnant women after vaccination,” he said. “So, it is important for the states and union territories to be prepared.”

The health ministry has also released operational guidelines for vaccination. The government’s plan involves 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.

The health ministry 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 comorbidities based on evolving situation of the coronavirus pandemic. It added that a dose would be administered finally to the remaining population, based on the disease epidemiology and the availability of vaccines.

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.

India has recorded more than 99 lakh cases of the coronavirus the second highest in the world and 1,43,709 deaths. As many as 94,22,636 people have recovered from the infection so far.

Also read:

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