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SMS, digital certificate, schools as booths in blueprint for Covid vaccine drive next year

The detailed backend preparation for the largest immunisation drive comes at a time when the Centre expects to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses and cover approximately 20-25 crore people by July 2021.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi |
Updated: October 25, 2020 1:34:57 pm
covid-19 vaccination, india migrants, air india disinvestment, ratan tata-mistry case, nirav modi, vijay mallya, india news, indian expressIndia is the world’s second worst affected country, even though daily case numbers have been falling consistently over the past three months.

An SMS delivered to the beneficiary days before vaccination, detailing the time and place; a QR code certificate, generated after each dose; and, health facilities involving the large network of schools, on the lines of elections, in the immunisation drive to ensure speedy access to the vaccine.

These are among the key features discussed in detail by an expert group, currently developing the blueprint for conducting the country’s largest immunisation drive against Covid-19 early next year, The Sunday Express has learnt.

The deliberations by the high-level National Expert Vaccine Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 are significant. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a review meeting last week, had underlined the geographical span of the country, and suggested that the delivery system learn from the successful conduct of elections to ensure speedy access to the vaccine.

Sources told The Sunday Express that the vaccination drive will not be confined to existing health facilities, but will also be extended to schools, on the lines of election booths.

The drive, and early recipients

The Centre expects to receive and utilise 400-500 million vaccine doses and cover 20-25 crore people by July 2021. While it has sought data from states on priority groups, it has indicated that healthcare professionals would be among early recipients.

“In the vaccination drive for Covid-19, one would be going below the facility level. When we say facility level, we mean either PHC or CHC or a health sub-centre or a district hospital; but in this case, you would be working on the analogy of conducting an election… Therefore, a sub-facility, may be a school, like an election booth on a day of the election, will have to be roped in,” the sources said.

A decision, sources said, has been taken to add a key feature to the eVIN (Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network) — an indigenously developed technology that tracks vaccine stocks digitally — that will track the beneficiary, the person who will be vaccinated.

“The expert group is looking at the enhancement of digital e-VIN platform; the enhancement is adding the module on beneficiary tracking. This feature is presently not there in the existing platform; at present, the platform has procurement, storage in 28,000 odd cold chain storage facilities, tracking their temperature, and going ahead, tracking their movement from storage point to the health facility or sub facility,” sources said.

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Since the vaccination drive will be conducted in different phases and will also include multiple doses, sources said the electronic platform is being developed where vaccination sessions can be scheduled.

Accordingly, the platform will inform the beneficiaries, in advance, about the date, time, and location of the vaccination centre.

“This electronic platform enables one to schedule vaccination sessions; once a session is scheduled, then the system generates an SMS that is delivered to the beneficiary. It will have details of date, time and venue when he or she will be vaccinated,” sources said.

“Once the person is vaccinated, and if there is no adverse event following the vaccination, a QR-based digital certificate will be generated, again automatically by the system,” sources said.

The government, sources said, will also be integrating the flagship initiative of the Ministry of Electronics & IT – DigiLocker – whereby beneficiaries will have an option to store digital certificates.

“There will be an option with the individual to store the QR-based digital certificate of vaccination in a DigiLocker, which is again a government facility,” sources said. This platform will provide access to authentic documents and enable the government to verify the data directly from beneficiaries after obtaining user consent.

The detailed backend preparation for the largest immunisation drive comes at a time when the Centre expects to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses and cover approximately 20-25 crore people by July 2021.

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