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COVID-19 vaccine rollout: Dry run in four states next week

A dry run has been planned in four states to prepare for COVID-19 vaccine administration and assess readiness.

December 25, 2020 / 08:18 PM IST

The government on December 25 said it was gearing up for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and a dry run has been planned in four states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, and Punjab.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) is expected to grant an emergency use authorisation for at least one COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the coming week, news reports said.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that detailed training modules had 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 others involved in the implementation process at various levels.

The training includes operational aspects such as organising vaccination sessions, use of the Co-WIN IT platform, cold chain preparedness, managing adverse events, communication, biomedical waste management, and infection prevention protocols.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The health ministry said that 2,360 participants were trained during the national level training programme which comprised state immunisation officers, cold chain officers, IEC officials, and development partners, among others.

State-level training has been completed in all states and Union Territories, except Lakshadweep (where it will be conducted on December 29). This included the participation of over 7,000 district-level trainees.

As many as 681 districts (49,604 trainees) have completed training of medical officers on operational guidelines. The vaccination team training has been completed in 1,399 out of 17,831 planning units and is underway in other blocks.

The ministry said that it had strengthened the national 1075 and state 104 helpline capacities to help address queries on COVID-19 vaccination and the Co-WIN portal.

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Dry run plan

A dry run has been planned in four states -- Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Punjab – to prepare for COVID-19 vaccine administration and assess readiness. The two-day activity is scheduled to take place on December 28-29, 2020.

Each of the four states – selected based on its location -- will plan the dry run in two districts and in different session type settings. These could be in a district hospital, urban site, private health facility and rural outreach, among others.

“This exercise will enable end-to-end mobilisation and testing of COVID-19 vaccination process (except the vaccine) and check the usage of Co-WIN in field environment, the linkages between planning, implementation and reporting mechanisms and identify challenges and guide way forward prior to actual implementation including improvements that may be required in the envisaged process,” the government said in the statement.

The dry run exercise will include data entries in the Co-WIN platform, deployment of team members and mock drill of sessions at sites with test beneficiaries. The drill will also help test cold storage and transportation arrangements, crowd management and maintenance of safety protocols.

The health ministry said that another important focus area of the dry run will be the management of possible adverse events following immunisation.

Priority groups

The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of COVID-19 (NEGVAC) had recommended prioritising three population groups: healthcare workers (about 1 crore), frontline workers (about 2 crore) and prioritised age group (about 27 crore).

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first published: Dec 25, 2020 02:39 pm
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