Harsh Vardhan holds meeting with states day before second Covid vaccine dry run, asks them to stop misinformation campaigns

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan held a meeting with health ministers of states and Union territories a day before the nationwide Covid-19 vaccine dry run. Vardhan asked the state authorities to be prepared and stop misinformation campaign.

“The feedback from dry run of Covid-19 vaccine in four states was reviewed in today’s meeting. We have made improvements based on the feedback. Tomorrow dry run will be done in 33 states and union territories,” the health minister said.

He also said that vaccinators are being trained and guidelines on vaccination plan has been distributed.

“We follow a set of protocol for such exercises, like a person has to be kept under observation for half an hour, in case a need arises, he/she will be attended to. So, I ask all the state authorities to be ready for tomorrow’s dry run,” said Vardhan.

He also said that the Centre has provided all the relevant information about Covid-19 and the vaccines which are expected to be launched in a few days, and this should be used to stop any misinformation campaign on social media or elsewhere.

“Covid-19 vaccines ‘Covishield’ and ‘Covaxin’ are on the verge of being available in the country. Our efforts are to ensure seamless last mile delivery of the vaccine,” said Vardhan.

The second round of dry run will take place on January 8 across all districts of the country, except in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. While Uttar Pradesh has already conducted the dry run in all districts on January 5, Haryana has organised it today.

In a statement, the Union health ministry said that each district across the country has been asked to identify three types of session sites, similar to the previous dry run including a public health facility (District Hospital/Medical College), private health facility, and rural or urban outreach sites.

The ministry further said that around 1.7 lakh vaccinators and three lakh vaccination team members have been trained on the process to be followed at the vaccination sites which include beneficiary verification, vaccination, cold chain & logistics management, bio-medical waste management, AEFI management, and reporting on Co-WIN software.

The first nationwide dry run of the vaccination drive took place at 286 session sites spread across 125 districts in the country on January 2. It was conducted to familiarise the state, district, block, and hospital-level officers on all aspects of the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out.

The dry run is aimed at testing the laid out mechanisms for inoculation programme and to assess operational feasibility of using Co-WIN application in a field environment for planning, implementation, and reporting at the block, district, and state level. Co-WIN has been developed by the health ministry for real time information on vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualised tracking of beneficiaries for the coronavirus vaccine.

The cold chain infrastructure (like walk-in-freezers, walk-in-coolers, ice-lined refrigerators, deep freezers) along with sufficient supplies of syringes and other logistics have also been ensured to begin Covid-19 vaccination drive.

The entire operational planning and IT platform was field-tested in four states – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Punjab and Gujarat – on December 28 and 29 and on the basis of the feedback received minor enhancements have been made in the IT system.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Sunday approved Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield and the indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country.

(With inputs from agencies)

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