‘Won’t compromise on any protocol in vaccine approval’
New Delhi, Jan 2: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan appealed to people on Saturday not to be misguided by “rumours” regarding the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine, and said the most prioritised beneficiaries would be vaccinated for free.
Vardhan stressed that there would be no compromise on any protocol while approving the vaccine. The minister, who visited two mock vaccination sites in Delhi to review the drill, said free vaccines would be provided in the first phase of the inoculation drive to the most prioritised beneficiaries, including one crore healthcare and two crore frontline workers.
He added that details were being finalised about how 27 crore priority beneficiaries — those above 50 years of age and those below it having comorbidities — would be vaccinated until July. The minister dispelled doubts regarding the country’s capability to undertake such a massive vaccination drive, describing how India had unparalleled experience in dealing with immunisation and runs one of the largest such programmes in the world. The comments come on a day Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav termed the immunisation a “vaccine of the BJP” and said he would not take the shot. “I appeal to the people not to be misguided by rumours regarding safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine,” Vardhan said, dismissing such buzz on social media over its side effects. “We will not compromise on any protocol before approving a vaccine.”
The health minister underlined that vaccine hesitancy was an issue even when the country started polio immunisation drive, but “we must remember its success”. He urged the media to exercise caution, behave “responsibly” and check all facts before publishing or broadcasting any reports, the ministry said.
On ensuring that the vaccine reaches the remotest corner, Vardhan said the country’s cold chain infrastructure had been sufficiently upgraded to ensure last-mile delivery, and adequate supplies of syringes and other logistics had also been provided for.
Ahead of the actual vaccination drive, the Ministry of Health on Saturday conducted a nationwide mock drill at 285 session sites to test the end-to-end planned operations and mechanism that has been set up to ensure smooth conduct of the vaccination that is expected to begin soon,” it said.
Vardhan appreciated the tireless efforts being made by multiple stakeholders, including the central and state government officials who have worked proactively in the last few months to ensure the success of this humongous operation. He said the digital platform, Co-WIN, was the real game changer and would provide real-time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualised tracking of beneficiaries of the COVID-19 vaccine. (PTI)