As India gears up to launch the world's largest immunisation drive, almost all states and Union Territory (UT) governments, including the national capital, on Saturday conducted a dry run at 285 session sites spread across 125 districts to the assess ability and readiness of authorities to administer Covid-19 shots to hundreds of millions of people, including many in remote corners of the country.
Ahead of the actual vaccination drive, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) conducted the nationwide mock drill at 285 session sites to test the end-to-end planned operations and the mechanism that has been set up to ensure smooth conduct of the Covid-19 vaccination.
This dry run of the vaccination drive spread across 125 districts covers all states and UTs having adequate representation of urban and rural districts along with hard-to-reach areas, said an MoHF statement.
On the Centre's directive, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana along with Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Gujarat were among many states and UTs who conducted a dry run and mock drills for Covid-19 vaccination earlier in the day, aimed at testing the laid out mechanisms for the vaccination roll-out in the health system.
The Centre had directed earlier to conduct a dry run by all state and UTs on January 2 to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges.
As per the guidelines issued by the MoHFW, all states selected their particular areas and districts to hold the dry run exercise at various government medical college, hospitals, medical centres and the community health centres.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Health Organization (WHO) supported the drive, officials said.
In the drive, the medical officer-in-charge identified several beneficiaries (healthcare workers).
The states and UTs have been asked to ensure that the data of beneficiaries is uploaded on Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring the delivery of the vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccine drive in India
Similar exercise for the distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccine was conducted in various states and UTs separately on different occasions in December.
While visiting two mock vaccination sites to review the dry run drill for administering the Covid-19 vaccine, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said that one crore healthcare workers and two crore frontline workers would be given free vaccine in the first phase of the inoculation drive.
He first visited the GTB Hospital in Shahdara and later an Urban Primary Health Centre (UPHC) in Daryaganj.
Expressing his satisfaction at the preparations at the GTB Hospital, the Minister said: "The entire exercise of the vaccination process is being systematically taken forward, including training of personnel for administering the vaccine. Detailed guidelines have been issued to multiple stakeholders after extensive deliberations, paying attention to each and every minute aspect."
The BJP leader said that the digital platform, "Co-WIN, repurposed from the e-VIN platform is the real game changer, and will provide real time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries of the Covid-19 vaccine".
This unique platform will assist the program managers across all levels through automated session allocation for pre-registered beneficiaries, their verification and for generating a digital certificate upon successful completion of the vaccine schedule. More than 75 lakh beneficiaries have been registered on Co-WIN platform till date, he said.
Vardhan said that the country's cold chain infrastructure has been "sufficiently upgraded" to ensure last mile delivery.
"Adequate supplies of syringes and other logistics have also been provided for."
The Minister warned the citizens against falling prey to rumours and disinformation campaigns regarding the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine and rubbished the rumours being propagated on social media which are raising doubts in the mind of the public regarding the vaccine side-effects.
"In the first phase of vaccination, free vaccine will be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that include one crore healthcare and 2 crore frontline workers," Vardhan further said.
He, however, added, that the details of how the remaining 27 crore priority beneficiaries will be vaccinated till July is still being finalised.
The central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of the immunisation drive. The vaccine will be administered to one crore healthcare workers, along with 2 crore frontline and essential workers, and 27 crore elderly, mostly above the age of 50 with co-morbidities.
(With inputs from IANS)