Two districts in Punjab Monday began a two-day dry run to check the preparedness of health authorities for a future Covid-19 vaccination drive. The dry run began at 5 places in Nawanshahr and 7 in Ludhiana.
Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, Punjab’s nodal officer for Covid-19, said, “This is a mock exercise to prepare ourselves for mass vaccination drive.
The actual dry run started on Monday and it will conclude on Tuesday. However, it is a 72-hour exercise in which Sunday was counted as Day 0 when we made the vaccine centres also known as session sites ready. On Day 1, Monday, online uploading of session sites was done which were also linked with cold chain points for delivery of dummy vaccine. Online list of beneficiaries was uploaded, they sent SMSes. On Day 2, i.e. Tuesday, the health workers will come in person.”
Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said, “Beneficiaries will be verified on the portal on Tuesday. After vaccination, one needs to wait in the waiting area for 30 minutes and the same will be done on Tuesday by health workers. 104 Helpline was tested by helpline operators calling persons who have to be called Tuesday.”
Dr Bhaskar added: “Whenever the actual drive begins in Punjab, we will be ready to vaccinate around 1.5 lakh health workers (private as well as government) in the first phase. We have a total of 4,000 immunisation teams with us and each team can vaccinate about 100 persons per day. In that case, we can vaccinate 4 lakh persons on a single day when we receive the vaccine in Punjab. Our teams are getting ready for the drive and this trial run was to check if we have flaws at any level, so that they can be corrected.”
One immunisation team has two members, so 4,000 teams comprise of 8,000 persons in all.
Meanwhile, 1.5 lakh health workers have already got registered on the government’s portal. Dr Bhaskar said that health staff can still get registration done so as to avail the benefit of vaccination in the first phase.
In Ludhiana, the dry run was conducted at seven places which were Dayanand Medical College and Hospital(DMCH), Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, Civil Hospitals located in sub-divisions Payal, Jagraon, Khanna, Riakot and Macchiwara.
Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, Dr Rajesh Kumar Bagga, said, “On Monday, we worked towards online registration part only which also included sending SMSes to beneficiaries to invite them at vaccine centres. This drive also includes preparation of medicine boxes. On Tuesday, beneficiaries will be at centres with a proof of SMS on their mobile phones. Meanwhile, we have chosen 25 health workers of every particular hospital or area only for this dry run and therefore for 7 centres, there are 175 health workers involved in this dry run.”
There are 125 health workers from Nawanshahr involved in this dry run, making it an exercise with involvement of total 300 workers. “Except for vaccinating the beneficiary, we are completing all exercises,” said Dr Bagga.
The exercise also saw a rumour on social media that it was an actual vaccination drive. Clearing the confusion, Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Ludhiana, VarinderKumar Sharma, said, “It was just a mock exercise to rehearse the administration of the vaccine. Although, the whole process of 72-hours from preparing medicine boxes, sending SMS to beneficiaries to inviting beneficiaries at the vaccine centres will be followed in this dry run, the actual vaccination drive will be carried out after receiving the vaccines only.”
The DC visited the Ludhiana Civil Hospital to inspect the entire drive on its first day.”
Dr Nivedita Ahluwalia, Ludhiana district immunisation officer, said, “Almost the entire staff of Civil Hospitals was involved in Monday’s exercise. We had made all preparations and on Tuesday our health workers will come in person. ”
District Immunisation Officer, Nawanshahr, Dr Davinder Dhanda said that necessary infrastructure at each centre includes a waiting area, an injection room, and an observation room where the person undergoing ‘dummy vaccination’ on Tuesday during the dry run would be kept for half an hour has been prepared. Prior to the dry run, a special training workshop of personnel was also held.
Dr Srinivasan, state officer, World health Organisation (WHO), was also present as the dry run rolled out in Ludhiana.
Ludhiana DC said that this mock drill is aimed at testing the laid out mechanisms for Covid-19 vaccination roll-out in the health system. He said that the dry run will exercise end-to-end testing of Covid-19 vaccination process and will vaccinate pre-identified beneficiaries from specified groups supported by CoWIN, an electronic application. The primary objective of the dry run includes assessing the operational feasibility of using Co-WIN application in the field environment and testing linkages between planning. Implementation and reporting mechanisms would identify challenges and guide the way forward prior to actual implementation.
(With PTI Inputs)
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