The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday said that all the states and Union Territories will hold a dry run for India’s massive coronavirus vaccination programme on January 2. The decision was taken at Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan’s virtual meeting with the state health officials.

“The activity is proposed to be conducted in all state capitals in at least 3 session sites; some states will also include districts that are situated in difficult terrain/have poor logistical support,” the health ministry said in a statement. “Maharashtra and Kerala are likely to schedule the dry run in major cities other than their Capital.”

The government said that the focus of the dry run will be on the management of adverse events after inoculation. “In addition, adherence and management of infection control practices at the session site, to prevent disease transmission,” the health ministry said. “The mock drill will include concurrent monitoring and review at the block and district levels, and preparation of feedback. The State Task Force shall review the feedback and share with the Union Health Ministry.”

This will be the second vaccine dry run to take place in the country. The first one happened in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat earlier this week. The exercise included all steps involved in the vaccination process, except for administering the shot.

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The announcement of the dry run came amid anticipation that a vaccine against the coronavirus will be approved in India in 2021. Earlier in the day, Drugs Controller General Dr VG Somani had said that India was likely to get the vaccine very soon, NDTV reported. “Probably we will have a new year with something in hand,” he had said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said on Thursday that the preparations for vaccination were in the final stage. His remark came a day after the Subject Expert Committee said that it will discuss the applications for the emergency use approval for vaccines filed by the Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Pfizer again on Friday.

India’s coronavirus tally rose to 1,02,66,674 in the morning after it reported 21,822 new cases in 24 hours. The country’s toll went up by 299 to 1,48,738. There are 2,57,656 active cases, and 98,60,280 people have recovered from the disease so far.

Communication strategy for accurate vaccine-related information

The health ministry on Thursday issued an 88-page document, a communication strategy, for the rollout of the vaccine in India. The strategy seeks to ensure that accurate information about the vaccines reaches people across the country.

With the new strategy, the government also seeks to eliminate apprehensions about the vaccine and ensure that it is accepted. “The strategy also seeks to build trust and enable greater confidence in the Covid-19 vaccine amongst all people by employing transparency in communication, while also managing any mis/disinformation and rumours around it,” the government added.