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Vaccination drive: Next phase crucial, says Guleria; beneficiaries can self-register, walk in

While the government is yet to make an official announcement on those who will be included in the over-45 age group with comorbidities, Guleria said those who are at higher risk of dying due to their underlying condition will be given priority.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi |
Updated: February 25, 2021 2:29:19 pm
Covid vaccination drive, coronavirus vaccine, Randeep Guleria on vaccination, covid vaccine, covid 19 vaccine, Covid-19 vaccine for senior citizens, coronavirus vaccine for senior citizens, india covid-19 vaccine, vaccine app, coronavirus vaccine registration, Covid-19 vaccine senior citizensAIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria. (File)

AN AGGRESSIVE vaccination strategy in the second phase will help reduce transmission of infection, decrease mortality and also reduce the chances of mutation of the virus, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said.

While the government is yet to make an official announcement on those who will be included in the over-45 age group with comorbidities, Guleria said those who are at higher risk of dying due to their underlying condition will be given priority.

“There are specific categories based on those who are at higher risk of dying because of Covid-19. People with heart disease, diabetes, those who have underlying cancer, people with disability which predisposes to severe pneumonia, or those who are on immunosuppressant steroids, and post-transplantation patients will come under this category,” Guleria told The Indian Express.

Guleria said the next phase of vaccination is crucial, especially in the backdrop of a surge in cases being reported in several states. “It is important considering the recent increase in the cases. The important issue is that we need to understand that Covid-19 has not gone away. We are witnessing many super-spreading events. Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and vaccination, as a two-pronged strategy, needs to be pushed very aggressively. There is data from Israel and the UK emerging that because of aggressive vaccination, cases have started coming down,” he said.

“The vaccine will help in decreasing the mortality; it will definitely help in decreasing the severity of illness, and hospitalisation deaths will come down. It will also, to some extent, help in decreasing the number of people getting the infection, and the duration of infection. Therefore, the transmission will also come down,” he said.

Guleria said the new threat of mutant strains can also be indirectly reduced through aggressive vaccination. “Indirectly, if you have lesser number of cases because of vaccination, the chances of mutation also becomes less. Because mutation is dependent on the number of replications. Lesser cases mean lesser replication of virus and less chance of mutants developing. All of them are linked,” Guleria said.

He said that in the next phase, there will be walk-in facility for vaccination, and volunteers will be deployed to help the economically backward section to register online. “If the eligible beneficiaries have a photo identity, they can go to the vaccination site (to get registered); there will be a walk-in facility. There will be volunteers who will be recruited; they will help these people to register and fix an appointment,” Guleria said.

In the first phase — for healthcare and frontline workers — the states uploaded bulk lists of beneficiaries eligible for free vaccination. The beneficiaries did not have to register on the Co-WIN app; they just received a text message on the date and site of vaccination. They did not have the option of choosing either the date or location.

This is going to change in the second phase. First, the Co-WIN app will start accepting individual registrations. Second, the new version of the app will be GPS-enabled, so beneficiaries can choose the date and location for their vaccination, depending on the availability of slots.

The app will also allow the beneficiaries to find the nearest vaccination centre, with details of whether it is a private or public facility.

Significantly, a beneficiary can also choose to get vaccinated in a state different from the one in which she is registered as a voter. For instance, a resident of Uttar Pradesh who is working in Karnataka can get vaccinated in the latter state.

When the beneficiary registers on the Co-WIN app, the back-end data will be sourced from the electoral roll and Aadhaar registration. The beneficiary can proceed only if the data matches.

If the last updated electoral roll doesn’t reflect the beneficiary’s current age, she can get it updated on the Co-WIN app. The district magistrates can pull out the electoral roll data to cross-check the beneficiary’s claim and update the age.

In terms of logistics, over 60 consignee points across the country will be ready to deliver the vaccine to any site within a day’s notice.

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