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Opinion

29,000 cold chain points, 41,000 freezers among government storage plans for Covid-19 vaccine

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The Union Ministry of Health announced the Center’s plans for cold storage chains on Tuesday as it prepares for a large-scale vaccination campaign against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) across the country. It includes 29,000 cold chain points, 240 cold rooms, 70 cold rooms, 45,000 ice-lined refrigerators, 41,000 freezers and 300 solar refrigerators that will be available for vaccine storage, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Tuesday.

Bhushan said during a press release that the Center has issued to states guidelines for the estimation of electrical and non-electrical cold chain equipment and its strengthening. Guidelines for cold chain management have also been issued at the last points in the cold chain and at session sites, he said. “All these teams have already been delivered to the states. Some other equipment is being supplied, ”he said.

Training modules for people who handle vaccines, such as Medical Officers, Vaccine Officers, Alternate Vaccine Officers, Cold Chain Managers, Supervisors, Data Managers, and ASHA Coordinators have begun both physically and via digital platforms. In addition, the National and State Training of Trainers (ToTs) workshops were also completed, he added.

Bhushan also spoke about the adverse effects of the vaccine, especially in pregnant women and children. “Adverse events after vaccination are a critical issue. When we undertake a universal immunization program, which has been in place for decades, we see some adverse effects in children and pregnant women after vaccination, ”he said.

The health secretary advised the states and territories of the Union to be prepared to handle such situations, as these effects had already occurred in the UK on the first day of its vaccination campaign. He also said that 23 ministries and departments of the Center and states have been identified and assigned roles such as planning, implementation, social mobilization, awareness-raising, among others, for the deployment of the vaccine.

The announcement comes a few days after the Center said the vaccination campaign was only a few months away. The Union’s minister of state for health, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, said that initially only 100 people per day would receive the vaccine, but eventually all would be vaccinated. “We are going to begin the process of sending the necessary equipment to the states for the storage and handling of the coronavirus vaccine. For now, only 100 people will receive the vaccine in a cabin per day. Eventually everyone will get the vaccine, ”he said.

Vaccine carriers, vaccine vials, and ice packs must be kept strictly out of direct sunlight as per the ‘Covid-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines’. “There may be no Vaccine Vial Monitors (VVM) and the expiration date on the Covid-19 vaccine label, this should not deter vaccinators from using the vaccine. At the end of the session, the vaccine carrier with all the ice packs and unopened vaccine vials should be sent back to the cold chain distribution point, ”the guidelines stated.

Officials have said 36 states and Union territories have already concluded the meetings of the State Steering Committees and the State Task Force and 633 districts have concluded the District Task Force meetings.

According to the guidelines issued to states recently, the Covid-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system, a digitized platform, will be used to track beneficiaries enlisted for vaccination and coronavirus vaccines in real time. .

The vaccine will be offered first to all healthcare and frontline workers, and people over 50 years of age. For the elderly, there may be subdivisions such as people between the ages of 50 and 60 and people over the age of 60, prioritizing the most vulnerable based on the availability of the vaccine. The vaccination of 300 million people has been planned in the first stage of the campaign.

India currently has 9,906,165 confirmed coronavirus infections and 143,709 deaths.

(With contributions from the agency)

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