As India gears up to inoculate people above 60 years of age and those over 45 with comorbidities against COVID-19 from March 1, the government has released a set of instructions for the inoculation drive.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the vaccination drive with healthcare workers at the frontline of India's COVID-19 battle getting their first jabs on January 16. So far, more than 1.42 crore healthcare and frontline workers have received the jabs in the country.
Now, the country is ready for phase two of the vaccination drive in which everyone above 60 years of age and those over 45 years with comorbidities will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine from March 1 for free at government facilities and for a charge at a number of private hospitals, the Centre has said.
For the second phase of the inoculation drive against coronavirus infection, following will be the vaccination centres:
> Government health facilities such as Sub Health Centres, Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres, Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres, Sub-Division Hospitals, District Hospitals and Medical College Hospitals.
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.
> All Private Hospitals empanelled under Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PM JAY) and similar State Health Insurance Schemes.
The Centre has also released guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination centres, which are as follows:
> They must have adequate space for the vaccination process, as detailed in the comprehensive SOPs issued by the Ministry;
> They must have basic cold chain equipment for storing the vaccine vials;
> They must have their own team of vaccinators and staff; and
> They must have an adequate facility for management of any adverse effect following immunisation (AEFI) cases.
For COVID-19 vaccination, eligible beneficiaries need to produce any of the following documents:
> Aadhar Card
> Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC)
> The Photo ID card specified at the time of registration in case of online registration (if not Aadhar or EPIC)
> Certificate of comorbidity for citizens in age group of 45 years to 59 years (signed by a registered medical practitioner)
> Employment certificate/ Official Identity Card – (either but with photo and date of birth) for healthcare and frontline workers.
People aged above 45 years will have to upload a medical certificate mentioning their comorbid conditions.
The Centre has also defined several routes for registration for COVID-19 vaccination. Take a look:
> The eligible beneficiaries would be able to register themselves on the Co-WIN platform from March 1 itself. Co-WIN, a digital platform, was created for real-time monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine delivery. The new version of the Co-WIN platform will be GPS-enabled and the beneficiaries will have the option to choose the inoculation session site both at the government and private facilities.
> Co-WIN will be able to take registrations and appointments from multiple applications, including Aarogya Setu or any other application such as a common service app
> There will be volunteers to help those opting for walk-in registration with the process if they are not tech-savvy.
> Under facilitated cohort registration, any state or union territory will take proactive lead. Specific date(s) for COVID-19 vaccination will be decided where target groups of potential beneficiaries will be vaccinated. The state or UT health authorities will ensure that the target groups are actively mobilised and brought to the vaccination centres. ASHAs, ANMs, Panchayati Raj representatives and Women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) will be utilized for mobilizing the target groups.
How to register on Co-WIN app?
A beneficiary will just have to register with his mobile number and in turn, will receive an OTP with which his account will be created. One can also get their family members registered on the account. One will also have the option to get inoculated in a state different from his or her home state.
India’s drug regulator has approved two vaccines - Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) - for emergency use in the country.
Asked if people would have a choice as regards which vaccine they want to take, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the country is proud to have two vaccines, both of which are effective with proven efficacy.
(With inputs from PTI)Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.