COVID-19 vaccine dry run in all districts on Jan 8, says TN Health Secretary

The design of the waiting room, vaccination room and observation room; the entry points; availability of space and time taken to cover 100 persons a day will be some of the aspects checked, the Health Secretary said

A dry run for the COVID-19 vaccine will be held in all districts on January 8, Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said on Wednesday.

A dry run has already been held at 17 sites in five districts on January 2. “We need to check the design of the waiting room, vaccination room and observation room, the entry points, availability of space and time taken to cover 100 persons a day. All these aspects will be rehearsed during the dry run,” the Health Secretary told reporters, following an inspection at the Government Medical Stores Depot of the Union Health Ministry at Periamet.

The State has readied 51 walk-in coolers, he said, adding: “The vaccine supply will be through the Central government. The Government Medical Stores Depot of the Centre is located in Chennai and we conducted a rehearsal here along with the Joint Director (Immunisation) and those in-charge of the cold chain, receipt and despatch. There are two walk-in coolers exclusively for COVID-19 vaccines here.”

The Government Medical Stores Depot covered southern States and were preparing to reserve private storage facilities too. “We are waiting for clarity on supply from the Centre. We have a storage capacity of 2.5 crore doses. The Government Medical Stores has to cover all southern States. So, we have said that if necessary, they can store in our facilities too,” he further said.

The State already has a stock of 17 lakh syringes. “The Centre has allotted 33 lakh syringes for the State in the first phase. Of this, we have received 28 lakh syringes. This would be allotted to every health unit district on the basis of the healthcare workers’ population. When the Centre gives us the vaccine supply schedule, we will be ready with all measures to start vaccinations,” the Health Secretary said.

The syringes would be sent to the 45 warehouses in these districts from tonight, he added.

In the first phase, six lakh healthcare workers in the government, private sector and armed forces would receive the vaccination. While 47,000 vaccine sites were readied, the healthcare workers would be covered at nearly 3,000 sites with 100 persons a day.

Along with the dry run, physical inspection of the facilities is being conducted to ensure a hassle-free environment for vaccination. FAQs on the vaccine and pamphlets on COVID-19 awareness are being prepared for distribution, he said.

“The Union Health Minister is holding a meeting with Health Ministers of all States on January 7. The suppliers’ meeting is going on. They will give us the schedule and details of transportation soon,” he said.

‘Information for elderly’

Once healthcare workers and frontline workers are covered, the vaccination will be open for the elderly. “We will provide information on the nearby centres where they can register. Many have been inquiring with the State health helpline, 104, on the vaccination especially for those aged above 80 years,” he said.

Noting that the vaccine is on a voluntary basis for the general population, he said many were showing interest in the COVID-19 vaccine in the State. He said that the government has prioritised persons aged above 18 years for the vaccine. “There are many debates on covering the paediatric population and pregnant women….We will get the opinions of vaccine experts and provide a clear response. As of now, children and pregnant women are not the priority,” he said.

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