India plans to vaccinate 300 million people in the first round of the vaccination drive. Health ministry and National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration have drawn up operational guidelines of 148 pages asking state government, district officials and municipal commissioners to put logistics, IT systems and ground staff in place for the drive. While there's no word on the official dates, the inoculation programme is expected to start in January 2021, following the approval of one of the coronavirus vaccine candidates.
India will use around 29,000 cold-chain points, 240 walk-in coolers, 70 walk-in freezers, 45,000 ice-lined refrigerators, 41,000 deep freezers and 300 solar refrigerators. The health ministry has asked departments involved in the drive to report any adverse events. Once the vaccine is administered, the beneficiary would be observed for at least 30 minutes in order to detect adverse reactions.
The ministry has also said that programme managers and implementers must plan to prevent and minimise preventable Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFIs).
Meanwhile, the UK has approved Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine for emergency use. India too is expected to follow suit and grant approval in the coming days. However, Serum Institute that is manufacturing and conducting the trials in India for the Oxford vaccine would need to gain World Health Organisation's pre-qualification that would enable the company to export the vaccine to other countries. However, that approval is likely to take a month. In the meantime, Serum's stockpile of 40-50 million vaccine doses would be used in India.
Even so, that would not be enough for the entire country. So the priority list would be healthcare workers, and frontline workers that would amount to around 20 million. Next in line would be people aged 50 years and above, followed by those below 50 years but with comorbidities, that would amount to 270 million or so.
To get the vaccine, one must register oneself on the Co-Win app that will keep a track of the drive.