NEW DELHI: India is set to witness a historic moment on Saturday with the commencement of the most-awaited vaccination drive against the dreaded coronavirus disease, with over three lakh people to be inoculated with doses of either Covaxin or Covishield.
The world’s biggest vaccination drives comes almost a year after the first coronavirus case was detected in India, which then claimed over 1.5 lakh lives and infected one crore people. The first case came to the fore on January 30, 2020 in Kerala. The vaccination drive will mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will virtually launch the world’s largest vaccination programme at 10:30 a.m. and almost three lakh beneficiaries, belonging to the priority groups, will be administered the silver bullet at over 3,006 vaccination sites across the country. Around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site.
Two vaccines — Oxford Covid vaccine Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and indigenously developed Covaxin by the Bharat Biotech — will be administered to priority groups. So far, the Central government has procured 1.1 crore Covishield and 55 lakh Covaxin vaccines at a cost of Rs 200 and Rs 206 per dose, respectively.
In Delhi, which has 81 vaccination sites, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has been allotted to six Centre-run hospitals including, while 75 Delhi government and private hospitals will receive Covishield, developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca with Serum Institute of India.
The vaccine will be first offered to the healthcare workers, frontline workers and those above 50 years of age, followed by the below 50 population with comorbidities, and finally to the remaining population based on disease epidemiology and vaccine availability.
The vaccination drive has been planned in a phased manner, identifying the priority groups. Healthcare workers, both in government and private sectors, including Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers, will receive the vaccine in the first phase.
Earlier on Friday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that India’s exercise to vaccinate its population against Covid-19 will be the largest immunisation drive in the world. The minister reiterated that both the indigenously manufactured vaccines have proven to be safe.
The Covid-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system, a digital platform, will be used to track the enlisted beneficiaries on a real-time basis. Prime Minister Modi will launch the app today.
The platform enables national and state administrators to view and sort the data of the beneficiaries as per their gender, age and comorbidity. They can also view the metadata of vaccination and the Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) reported from the constituent districts.
At the vaccination site, only pre-registered beneficiaries will be vaccinated as per prioritisation, and there will be no provision for on-the-spot registrations. A dedicated 24×7 hotline – 1075 – has also been set up to address questions related to the vaccine rollout and the Co-WIN app.
The entire vaccination process will be broadly similar to the election process. Each vaccination team will consist of five members, including security personnel, nurses, paramedics and a doctor. Three will be a waiting area, an inoculation room and a post-vaccination observation area. There will also be a reception desk for registration and verification of the beneficiaries.
Notably, only those above 18 years will be vaccinated. Pregnant women or who are not sure of their pregnancy and lactating mothers should not take the vaccine. Those with a history of bleeding or coagulation disorder will be administered the vaccine with utmost caution.
Vaccination will have to be deferred for four to eight weeks after recovery of patients with active Covid symptoms, or those who have been given plasma therapy, and those who are unwell or have been hospitalised for any other reason.
The second dose of the Covid vaccine will be administered after an interval of fourteen days. Also, interchanging Covid-19 vaccines is not allowed.
The mild adverse impacts of the Covishield vaccine could be headache, fatigue, pain in muscle, injection site tenderness, weakness, pyrexia, chills, arthralgia and nausea.