India is gearing up to vaccinate at least 250-300 million people, including about 30 million health care and frontline workers, against Coronavirus disease by July next year, for which it will be looking at procuring about 500-600 million vaccine doses.
The Centre is regularly following up with the states to devise measures to successfully launch the Covid-19 vaccination drive across the country that is likely to start in the first quarter of next year when the vaccine is expected to be made available for use.
Initially, the approvals to manufacturers are likely to be under the emergency use authorization, and later after analyzing full phase-3 clinical trials data, there will be marketing approvals in place for use by general public.
“A crucial part of the strategy is to get the exact list of people who need to be vaccinated on priority. States were asked to draw up a list of the population groups which will be given the vaccine in the first phase. To begin with, we are looking at vaccinating about 30 million frontline workers. That’s our topmost priority as they are at maximum risk of exposure to the virus,” said a senior health ministry official.
Different categories have been made for vaccine administration on priority by the Centre’s national vaccine committee on Covid-19. Corona warriors, including health care and frontline workers, people above 65 years of age, those between 50 and 65 years of age, and those below 50 years of age with chronic diseases are on the list that is to be given the vaccine on priority.
Union health ministry has asked states to set up committees to oversee and coordinate the vaccination process at the ground level while making sure that there are minimal disruptions in other routine healthcare services. In a letter written to states earlier, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan suggested constitution of committees at state and district levels to review preparatory activities.
“In all likelihood, the Covid-19 vaccine introduction will span over a year with multiple groups being included sequentially, starting from healthcare workers. Therefore, it is important to create a strong advisory and coordination mechanism at the state and district level to guide the process of Covid-19 vaccine introduction while ensuring minimal disruption of other routine healthcare services, including immunisation,” according to the terms of references shared with the states.
The committees will also coordinate cold chain augmentation, capacity building activities of vaccinators and field staff, wherever needed.