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Opinion

‘Use Election-Like Process for Covid-19 Vaccination Campaign’: Center Tells States

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The vaccination campaign against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) will be similar to the electoral process in the country, declared the Union’s health ministry in its operational guidelines for Covid-19 vaccines sent to the states. He said the latest electoral roll for the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assembly election should be used to identify the population aged 50 and over who would receive the vaccine as a priority along with frontline and healthcare workers.

The remaining population will be offered the vaccine based on the epidemiology of the disease (pattern) and the availability of the vaccine.

“While most healthcare and frontline workers would be vaccinated at fixed session sites, vaccinating other high-risk populations may require outreach session sites and mobile sites / teams. The state / UT can identify specific days for vaccination, ”said government guidelines.

Only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated after prioritization, with 100 registered beneficiaries vaccinated per session. There will be no vaccination at the beneficiary site at the vaccination site.

The Covid-19 vaccine will be introduced once all trainings are completed in the district, block, and planning units.

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“As demonstrated during recent experiences with the introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and polio rounds conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic, training of trainers at the national and state level can be successfully conducted on virtual platforms. and cascaded at the district and sub-district levels using a combination of virtual and face-to-face training. “

The constitution of a National Group of Experts on Covid-19 Vaccine Administration (NEGVAC) has been the key to guiding all aspects of the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine in India. Twenty-three ministries and departments, and numerous development partners are involved in planning the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine in the country.

“The Covid-19 vaccine will be offered first to healthcare workers, frontline workers and people over 50 years of age, followed by those under 50 with associated comorbidities depending on the evolution of the pandemic situation and , finally, to the rest of the population. on the epidemiology of the disease and the availability of vaccines ”, mention the guidelines.

“The priority group over 50 years old can be subdivided into those over 60 years old and those between 50 and 60 years old in order to graduate the launch of the vaccine according to the situation of the pandemic and the availability of the vaccine. The last electoral census will be used for the election of the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assembly to identify the population aged 50 years and over ”, indicates the guidance document.

The vaccination team will consist of five members. There will be a vaccination officer, who could be a doctor (MBBS / BDS), nurse, pharmacist, auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM), health visitor (LHV). Any person legally authorized to administer an injection will be considered a potential vaccinator. Then there will be the vaccination officer 1 with at least one person from the police, house guard, civil defense, National Cadet Corps, National Service Scheme or Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan who will verify the registration status of the beneficiary at the point of entry and will guarantee guarded entry. to the vaccination session.

Vaccination Officer 2 will be the verifier who will authenticate or verify identification documents, while Vaccination Officer 3 and 4 will be the two support staff members responsible for crowd management, information, education and communication, and they will support the vaccinator.

The Covid-19 Vacuna Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system, a digitized platform, will be used to track beneficiaries enlisted for vaccination and Covid-19 vaccines in real time.

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The existing post-immunization adverse event surveillance (AEFI) system will be used to monitor adverse events and inform the understanding of the safety profile of vaccines. AEFI reporting through SAFEVAC is being integrated with Co-WIN software and each AEFI will be reported at the district level and additionally referral mechanisms should any AEFI need to be implemented.

SAFEVAC is an adverse effect capture based on application after flu vaccines. Experts say that it is a good idea to make use of the existing platform used for universal immunization in India to carry out the Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

“In order to effectively reach the target population for Covid-19 vaccination, India will need to use its existing national immunization network, including infrastructure (production, storage, transportation, delivery facilities), as well as human resources (vaccinators , supervisors, etc.). However, given the scale of the vaccination effort required for Covid-19, the effort will need to take the existing network and leverage it. This needs to be planned, budgeted for, and efforts made to implement before a vaccine is available for widespread immunization, ”said researcher Anant Bhan, who specializes in bioethics and public health.

There are 9 Covid-19 vaccine candidates in different phases of development in India, of these 3 are in the preclinical phase while 6 are in clinical trials.

According to statements made by the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, India aims to vaccinate 250-300 million people against Covid-19 in the first phase with priority for July next year.

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