The first consignment of 10 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccine “Covishield” arrived in Kolkata on Wednesday afternoon. It is the local version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and has been manufactured by the Serum Institute of India in Pune.
Sources said the first dose in the state would be administered at the SSKM Hospital here on January 16, followed by the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute. Ten thousand SSKM hospital staff, including doctors, nurses and Group-D employees, would be vaccinated in phases.
“May all be free from disease’. One step closer! The consignment from Pune carrying #COVID19 vaccines has arrived at #KolkataAirport. Consignment handed over to State Health Department in shortest possible time to maintain the cold chain,” Kolkata airport tweeted after the vaccine arrived at 2.30 pm in a special cargo flight of budget carrier SpiceJet.
The shipment was then moved to the central vaccine store in Kolkata’s Bagbazar area in two insulated vans. The government has installed five walk-in coolers and four walk-in freezers to store the vaccine at the required temperature. The vaccine has to be stored between two degrees Celsius and eight degrees Celsius.
“Everything is being managed well, I have a team of people working on it. Neighbouring districts have already started collecting the vaccine, the rest will be transported from tomorrow. Today, adjacent districts like Howrah, Hooghly etc collected the vaccine, escorted by the police. By January 16, health workers will start receiving the vaccine in the first phase,” Health Secretary Narayan Swarup Nigam said after visiting the Bagbazar centre.
A health official said the vaccine would reach all the districts by January 15, with three lakh doses going to North Bengal. They will be transported to cold chain points in freezer trucks.
“The vaccine has been received and stored, the vaccine will be distributed to all the centres by January 15. We are ahead of schedule, many districts have already collected it,” said an official at the Bagbazar vaccine depot.
Sources said in the first phase around six lakh healthcare workers would be vaccinated. There will be three vaccination centres in each district. According to sources, the centres will have five to ten vaccination booths. Each site will have a team of people, including a vaccinator, the police and security personnel, and National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets to help maintain protocols. “We have successfully done the trials, we are now all prepared to protect people by vaccinating them,” said a senior health official.
Sources said that during the dry run officials assessed how proper social distancing would be maintained, and looked at other steps such as checking the identity of every person, properly administering vaccine shots, and validating data in the Centre’s CoWIN app. After vaccination, health workers will be kept under observation for 30 minutes.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with chief ministers about the distribution of the vaccine. After the commencement of the vaccination drive, people who have registered their names for the inoculation drive will be sent a message on their registered phone number about the day, place and time of vaccination. After they receive the vaccine, a certificate will be sent to the mobile number.
Meanwhile, in the past 24 hours, 751 persons tested positive for Covid-19 and 18 persons died in the state.
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