The Union Health Ministry on Thursday issued a set of rules for states and Union Territories to follow during the coronavirus vaccination drive, which will start on Saturday.
In a letter, Additional Health Secretary Manohar Agnani said that only those above the age of 18 years should be given the shots and the interchangeability of the vaccines was not permitted. India has approved two vaccines for emergency use.
The Centre said that the coronavirus vaccine and other vaccines should be separated by at least 14 days. Pregnant women, those not sure of their pregnancy and lactating mothers should not be given the vaccine, it added. People who have had an allergic reaction to the previous dose of the vaccine should also not be given the next jab.
Vaccination will be deferred for four to eight weeks for those who have active symptoms of the coronavirus, those who have been given plasma therapy and those who are unwell and hospitalised for any other reason. “Vaccines should be administered with caution in persons with history of any bleeding or coagulation disorder, (e.g. clotting factor deficiency, coagulopathy, or platelet disorder),” the ministry said.
The health ministry also provided a comparative fact-sheet for both the vaccines approved by the country’s drug regulator – Serum Institute’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The fact-sheet has information about the physical specifications, vaccine platform, dosage, cold-chain storage requirements and minor AEFIs or adverse event following immunisation. The AEFIs include headache, fatigue, fever, body ache, nausea, vomiting, sweating, cold coughs, among others.
The ministry said the information should be disseminated to programme managers across all levels and through them to cold-chain handlers and vaccinators for ready reference.
The Centre is planning to inoculate 30 crore people over the next few months. About 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers will get the vaccine first. After that, people over the age of 50 and those with comorbidities will be vaccinated.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the vaccination drive on Saturday via video conferencing. As many as 3,006 sites across all states and Union Territories will be virtually connected during the launch. Around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each of the sites on the first day.
The vaccination programme will use digital platform CoWIN to facilitate real time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualised tracking of the beneficiaries. The coronavirus helpline number, 1075, will also provide information on the CoWIN software and vaccine roll out.
The Drugs Controller General of India had approved Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech’s vaccines for emergency use on January 3. The Serum Institute is the local maker of Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca. Bharat Biotech has manufactured India’s first indigenous vaccine candidate, Covaxin, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology. Experts have, however, questioned the government’s decision to clear Covaxin without the publication of data of its phase-3 human trials.
India registered 15,590 new coronavirus cases on Friday, taking the overall count to 1,05,27,683. The country’s toll rose by 191 to 1,51,918. India’s active cases stood at 2,13,027, while the number of recoveries reached 1,01,62,738