Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reviews prep ahead of Vaccine Dry Run

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday interacted with the Health Ministers, Principal Secretaries, and Additional Chief Secretaries of the states and UTs to review the preparedness for the nationwide mock drill for coronavirus vaccination scheduled for Friday.

The second nationwide mock drill on the Covid19 vaccination will be held at three session sites of 736 districts across all 33 states and UTs.

Its objective is to simulate the actual vaccine administration event. The entire planning of the vaccination drive including beneficiary registration, microplanning and vaccination at the planned session site, will be tested under the leadership of District Collector/District Magistrate.

The dry run will also familiarise the state, district, block and hospital level officers on all aspects of the vaccine roll out. This activity will help administrators in strengthening the linkages between planning, implementation and reporting mechanisms, identification of any residual challenges prior to the actual implementation and to provide confidence to the programme managers at all levels to carry out a smooth implementation of the vaccination drive.

Seeking their personal indulgence, leadership and keen oversight for the national dry run, Dr Harsh Vardhan requested the Health Ministers to be vigilant against rumours and disinformation campaigns regarding the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Rubbishing the rumours being propagated on social media which are raising doubts in the mind of the public regarding the vaccine side effects, he said: “These miscreants might derail the whole exercise, set the clock back by years.”

He urged the state health authorities to work with the multiple stakeholders and the youth to spread the right information and dispel rumours and mistruths being spread about the Covid-19 vaccine.

Harsh Vardhan started by reminding everyone that the country has completed a year of successfully battling the pandemic with the first meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) of MoHFW on Covid being held on January 8.

He appreciated the tireless efforts being made by the multiple stakeholders, including the Central and state government officials and the medical community who have worked proactively in the last few months to compose and disseminate detailed guidelines on the upcoming vaccination drive, train the vaccine administrators.

He also expressed gratitude to the scientific community who have worked tirelessly to bring the country two vaccines which have recently received the Emergency Use Authorisation few days back.

The Health Minister highlighted the unique digital platform, Co-WIN, repurposed from the e-VIN platform that will provide real time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries of the Covid-19 vaccine.

This platform will assist the programme 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 78 lakh beneficiaries have been already registered on the platform, he stated.

The Minister reassured all his State counterparts that the country’s cold chain infrastructure has been sufficiently upgraded to ensure last mile delivery and that adequate supplies of syringes and other logistics have also been provided for. “India has unparalleled experience in dealing with immunisation and runs one of the largest universal immunisation programmes in the world which has been applauded by the world for its robustness.”

He referred to India’s several successful immunisation drives with respect to polio, rubella and measles and also narrated his personal experience from the early nineties of having galvanised efforts of millions of Indians which eventually led to the eradication of polio from the country.

“The rich experience of the country from the UIP and the anti-polio campaign are being used to strengthen the processes of Covid-19 vaccination,” he said.

Following this, he reminded his state counterparts to also ensure that the National Immunisation Day (NID) scheduled on January 17 is also given due importance.

He also requested the state and UT Health ministers to ensure that non-Covid essential services are not adversely impacted.

“It is with the collaborative efforts of the states and UTs and multiple partners that India and 11 other countries of the South East Asia region of WHO have been declared polio free. It should be our endeavour to sustain India’s polio-free status,” he said. Drawing attention to some neighbours still having cases of wild polio, he said that it is important that the NIDs are effectively rolled out.

Harsh Vardhan stated that to strengthen the capacity of human resource for Covid-19 vaccine introduction and roll-out, detailed training modules have been developed for different categories of vaccine handlers and administrators including medical officers, vaccinators, alternate vaccinators, cold chain handlers, supervisors, data managers, ASHA coordinators and all others involved in the implementation process at different levels.

He said the entire operational planning and IT platform has been field tested on several occasions before the second national dry run of Friday. The earlier national mock drill of January 2 helped to iron out any glitches in the final execution and further refinement of the operational procedures. The feedback from most of the States and UTs was satisfactory conduct of the dry run.

The State and UT ministers shared their feedback and experience from the past dry run exercises and the preparedness for Friday’s exercise.

They informed about the training sessions held for vaccinators, updation of the database of beneficiaries, cold chain management, session allocation, reporting of Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) etc.

The Union Minister was also apprised that the meeting on the state level, district level and block level are being conducted regularly. Effective communication is being carried out in the States to disseminate the correct information about vaccines.

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