The pan-India vaccination drive against novel coronavirus will begin from January 16 after the upcoming festivals, including Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal and Magh Bihu. Union Health Ministry made the announcement following a high-level meeting on Saturday chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to assess the status of COVID-19 in the country along with the preparedness of states and union territories for vaccination.
The first phase of COVID-19 vaccination will inoculate 30 crore people from priority groups. This includes 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers, along with 27 crore people above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities. India has approved two COVID-19 vaccines - Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin - for emergency use.
Commenting on the development later, PM Modi called it a "landmark step towards fighting COVID-19". "On January 16, India takes a landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19. Starting that day, India's nation-wide vaccination drive begins. Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis," the Prime Minister tweeted.
On 16th January, India takes a landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19. Starting that day, India’s nation-wide vaccination drive begins. Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis. https://t.co/P5Arw64wVt— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 9, 2021
During the meeting, PM Modi was also briefed about the preparedness of Centre in close collaboration with the State and UT governments for roll out of the vaccine in the near future.
"The vaccination exercise in underpinned by the principles of people's participation (Jan Bhagidari); utilizing experience of elections (booth strategy) and Universal Immunization Program (UIP); no compromise of existing healthcare services, especially national programs and primary health care; no compromise on scientific and regulatory norms, other SOPs; and an orderly and smooth implementation driven by technology," the Health Ministry said in a statement.
PM Modi was also apprised about the status of Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System. The vaccination digital platform will provide real time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualised tracking of beneficiaries of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Co-WIN platform has been built to assist programme managers across all levels through automated session allocation for pre-registered beneficiaries, their verification and for generating a digital certificate upon successful completion of the vaccine schedule. More than 79 lakh beneficiaries have been already registered on the platform.
The training process for vaccinators and vaccine administrators was also detailed out during the meeting. During national level Training of Trainers, 2,360 participants were trained including state immunisation officers, cold chain officers, IEC officials, development partners, etc. More than 61,000 programme managers, 2 lakh vaccinators and 3.7 lakh other vaccination team members have been trained so far as part of trainings at states, districts and block levels.