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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Maharashtra: Districts begin preparations for coronavirus vaccine rollout

Earlier this week, the Union Health Ministry shared guidelines with all states on the procedure to create a database on health workers, who will be first in line to receive the immunisation against coronavirus.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | October 24, 2020 2:44:36 am
COVID-19 vaccines, Uk vaccine, UK Vaccine taskforce chair, Lancet report on Covid vaccines, world covid cases, world news, Indian expressBingham wrote that the Vaccine Taskforce recognises that "many, and possibly all, of these vaccines could fail". (File)

DISTRICTS Across the state have begun a process of creating a database of healthcare workers from public and private institutes this week following the Government of India guidelines to commence the preparation for a vaccine rollout, possibly by early next year.

Earlier this week, the Union Health Ministry shared guidelines with all states on the procedure to create a database on health workers, who will be first in line to receive the immunisation against coronavirus.

State health officials said they have also started looking at storage and transport facilities. Districts have begun assessing maintenance requirements for existing ice-lined refrigerators (ILR) and deep freezers although they are not sure if ILR will be suitable for a vaccine that is eventually approved for use.

ILR maintains a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius and is used to store vaccines for polio, measles, rubella and other diseases at primary health centres across the state. While most vaccines can be stored in this temperature range, some may require a negative temperature.

In Satara, Collector Shekhar Singh said they have received two guidelines from the government.

“We have begun the process of creating a medical and non-medical database. We are reaching out to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), hospital owners association, nursing association, and Ayush hospitals to prepare a list of medical staff,” he said.

He added although vaccine requirements have not been finalised, they have begun basic preparations at the district level. “We are counting our cold storage facilities and keeping them ready,” he said.

In Osmanabad, district health officer Dr HV Wadgave said they have 60 cold storage points where vaccines can be stored. “We have started maintenance work for cold storage space. We are checking ILR’s working conditions in primary health centres and logistics required to transport vaccines,” he said.

Dr Radhakishan Pawar, the district health officer in Beed, said, “We are already storing polio, and rotavirus vaccine in ILRs. We also have deep freezers. There should be no space shortage in storing vaccines for Covid-19,” he said. Beed has 76 cold storage points.

State health secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas said database creation is a mammoth exercise since the entire private sector has to be accounted for. Selection of healthcare workers will include nurses, supervisors, ASHAs, ANMs, paramedical staff, medical officers, working medical students, hospital administrative staff, support staff like drivers and security, and doctors from parallel medicines, like homoeopathy, Ayush and Unani.

The National Health Mission Director will be the nodal officer for vaccination drive in states. While preparation began this week, Vyas said they still don’t know the cost and storage requirements for the vaccine. “We will have to wait for those specifications and then we can prepare the infrastructure,” he said.

“We are still waiting to know the kind of vaccine, its cost before we can make more decisions,” said state Health Minister Rajesh Tope. He said it is the government’s responsibility to create free and easy access to vaccines for the poor.

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