The state has begun preparations for large scale immunisation against Covid-19 with 16,245 vaccinators being registered and data of 1.38 lakh healthcare workers – who would be among those administered the vaccine – being uploaded on an online software so far.
In a state-level meeting of major departments on Wednesday, chaired by Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar and convened by Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas, the working of district-level committees, procedure of vaccination and priority groups were discussed.
The health department expects the first batch of vaccines to arrive by early 2021. The entire stock will first reach Pune’s state vaccine store, from where it will be distributed to nine regional stores in Kolhapur, Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Aurangabad, Latur, Akola, Nagpur and Nashik. The supply will further be distributed to 61 stores in districts and municipal corporations. A Rs 43.78-lakh budget has been proposed for civil and electrical work at these stores.
In hospitals with more than 100 healthcare workers, the vaccines will be administered in the hospital itself. In other parts, where there are less than 100 healthcare workers, medical colleges, district hospitals and primary health centres will be designated as vaccination points. In remote areas, mobile vans will be used to vaccinate healthcare workers.
Senior health officials said that they have a list of 2.6 lakh government healthcare workers (HCW) to be vaccinated at 135 sites. It will take 20 days for each site to cover these HCWs. Separately, about 78 per cent of data on private HCWs has been prepared.
So far, the state has prepared a list of HCWs from 4,005 government and 28,714 private hospitals.
After healthcare workers, frontline workers like homeguards; civil defense, state and central police personnel as well as disaster management and municipal workers will be vaccinated. In the third phase, the health department will vaccinate those aged above 50 years and those below 50 with associated comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension and respiratory problems.
“Right now we are only collecting data for healthcare workers. After that frontline workers’ data will be gathered and then of high-risk groups,” said Dr D N Patil, the state immunisation officer.
The state is also preparing to tackle issues that the usage of multiple vaccines is likely to throw up. Right now there are eight vaccine candidates in phases I, II and III or in preclinical animal studies, the presentation made to chief secretary stated. The state has decided to fix one particular vaccine schedule for one day to avoid mix-up. “A person has to be given the first and second dose of the same vaccine. This has to be carefully managed,” a health official said.
The department has decided to allot crowd management personnel to handle those reaching a vaccination centre for immunisation. While healthcare workers will be vaccinated in hospitals and primary health centres, frontline workers will be vaccinated in schools, community halls, government and selected private hospitals. In the third phase, the high-risk population will be vaccinated in municipality and gram panchayat offices, community halls, schools and government and private hospitals.
Data of 16,245 vaccinators – comprising doctors, including Bachelor of Dental Surgery doctors, and auxiliary nurse midwives – has been shortlisted, but the numbers can be increased to over 25,000 if required.
The government has directed that “election polling booth may be referred for identifying outreach session sites” and special mobile teams would reach out to migratory population, remote and inaccessible areas.
A layout of vaccination centres has been shared with all districts. Each centre should have a waiting or registration area, vaccination room and observation room, where each person will spend 30 minutes after receiving a dose to monitor for adverse effects.
The health department has asked districts to ensure vaccination centres do not allow inter-mingling of beneficiaries to avoid Covid infection risk after a person receives his first shot. A vaccination officer has to monitor that only registered healthcare workers are allowed to enter vaccination sites to receive their shots.
Some questions still remain answered – whether vaccination will be made mandatory or what health officials will do if a person refuses to get the second dose. “Even the Union government has not discussed this till now. As we move forward, we will have clarity. For now, we believe the exercise is voluntary,” said Dr Pradeep Vyas.
Maharashtra has 3,135 cold chain points and 4,153 iced line refrigerators (ILRs) – generally used in primary healthcare centres and vaccination points – to store vaccines. A huge infrastructure support from the central government has been promised, including 677 ILRs, 150 deep freezers and six-walk in coolers to store vaccines.