Nearly 12 crore COVID vaccine doses will be available to states and union territories in June 2021 enabling them to ramp up inoculation, the Centre informed them on Monday. In a review meeting held through video conferencing, the states and UTs were also exhorted to proactively increase engagement with private hospitals on COVID vaccinations and take up non-health facility based settings and nearer to home vaccination centres for the elderly and differently-abled.
They were advised to constitute a dedicated team of 2-3 members to regularly coordinate with vaccine manufacturers and private hospitals for timely supplies of vaccine, a health ministry statement said. In the meeting with administrators from states and UTs on the progress of vaccination, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan assured them that the central government will provide the states and UTs with the available buffer stock to urgently replenish their depleting supplies so that the vaccination drive continues at a steady pace, it said.
The Health Secretary appreciated the collective efforts of states and UTS to increase the pace of vaccination in the last week of May 2021 as most of the vaccine supply of the current month reached the states towards the end. He also pointed out there is a substantial scope to accelerate the pace of vaccination even further, the statement said.
"The total availability of vaccines is going to increase further in June 2021 (as already shared with them through the Vaccine Visibility Calendar). Nearly 12 crores (11,95,70,000) doses will be available to states and UTs in June 2021 enabling them to ramp up the vaccination numbers," the statement said. Many states have complained of persistent shortage of vaccine. The meeting was held on a day Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to 11 CMs of non-BJP ruled states seeking a united effort to press the Centre to procure COVID-19 vaccines and ensure free universal vaccination.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
The vaccination exercise as a tool to protect the most vulnerable population groups in the country from COVID-19 continues to be regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level, the Health Ministry statement said. The Secretary noted that a "graded, pre-emptive and pro-active approach" has allowed for the exercise to be modified to suit present circumstances in wide consultation with all the stakeholders which has resulted in more flexibility to the states and UTs regarding the vaccination program.
"With a focus on community-based outreach approach where sessions can be conducted in non-health facility based settings and nearer to home(e.g. in a community centre, RWA centre/office, panchayat ghar, school buildings, old age homes etc.)for elderly and differently-abled population, an advisory for "Near to Home COVID Vaccination Centres (NHCVCs) for Elderly and Differently Abled Citizens" has been shared with states and UTs," it said. States and UTs were urged to increase the number of near-to-home vaccination centres, and create awareness among the masses for use of these CVCs.
The process of identification of NHCVC Site and linkage with existing CVC was reiterated, the statement said. "States and UTs are to identify and designate an existing COVID Vaccination Center (CVC) to undertake vaccination at NHCVC. Nodal Officer of designated CVC will review the proposed NHCVCs for essential criteria viz. availability of 3 rooms/space for vaccination, accessibility for senior citizens/ special need, feasibility of managing AEFIs and availability of internet etc," it said.
Nodal Officer in charge of designated CVC is required to ensure vaccine, logistics and vaccination team deployment on the day of vaccination. It was again pointed to states and UTs to make focused efforts to drastically reduce wastage of COVID vaccine which is a public health commodity through optimal vaccine utilisation.While the overall levels have considerably reduced, Union Health Secretary pointed that there were many states which still needed to substantially reduce the wastage. It was suggested to states and UTs to retrain and reorient vaccinators to ensure judicious usage of the vaccines, the statement said.